I'll admit I was wrong.
That's a start. I, like many, thought that Naomi Osaka didn't have real mental health issues. That she was misusing the words because she was afraid of questions at the French Open. Even some people with mental health issues were doing the same. But we all should have known that you never truly know what someone is going through unless you really know them. I apologize for not believing her.
The recent attention on Naomi's desire to not do press conferences finally came to a halt today with her withdrawing from the French Open, which I think makes us all a little sad. It should not have come to this -- but it did. We can only hope that things will get better from here.
I, have been part of the tennis (as well as other professional/college sports) media, and I know things can be improved. It can be especially improved in tennis where you're dealing with teenage kids. Teenage kids who are being thrown into the spotlight way to early and have way too much burden thrown on them, when they're still trying to figure out who they really are.
Naomi said today that she has struggled with mental health since winning her first slam. She's always been an introvert and so it shouldn't be a surprise that she might struggle with all the popularity and fame that comes with being a big-time athlete.
Mental health is a very serious thing and no one should take it lightly. I think we've all struggled with mental health in some way, especially during the pandemic. No one has perfect mental health, and I think it's always a work in progress for all of us.
It took a lot of guts for her to go through this and I'm proud of her effort and letting everyone know about her struggles. I know that can't be easy.
Only Naomi knows what she's been through, but I hope that she takes the time and gets the help she needs and only then comes back. I hope that changes are made to make things better for athletes, especially ones that are still teenagers.
I have no doubt that if she can take the time and get her mental health back on track she can help make a difference for others. Naomi is a great champion and a great leader and role model for younger people.
I have no doubt she will once again be lifting grand slam trophies and she will be stronger for what she has been through.