Grand Slams have vowed to ‘improve the player experience’ of tennis stars at major tournaments after world number 2 Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open following mental health struggles……
A strong joint statement from the Grand Slams on Sunday threatened world number two with disqualification and a ban from future tournaments if she did not reverse her decision not to fulfill her media commitments fuelled the flames of what had already become a major talking point.
Osaka announced her withdrawal from the French Open early this week, revealing her struggles with depression, and another statement from the slams on Tuesday took a very different tone.
‘On behalf of the Grand Slams, we wish to offer Naomi Osaka our full support and assistance in any way possible as she takes time away from the court,’ read the statement. ‘She is an exceptional athlete and we look forward to her return as soon as she deems appropriate.
‘Mental health is a very challenging issue, which deserves our utmost attention. It is both complex and personal, as what affects one individual does not necessarily affect another.
‘We commend Naomi for sharing in her own words the pressures and anxieties she is feeling and we empathise with the unique pressures tennis players may face.
‘While players’ well-being has always been a priority to the Grand Slams, our intention, together with the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, is to advance mental health and well-being through further actions.’
‘Together, as a community, we will continue to improve the player experience at our tournaments, including as it relates to media,’ the statement read.
‘We intend to work alongside the players, the tours, the media and the broader tennis community to create meaningful improvements. As Grand Slams, we aim to create the stage for the players to achieve the highest accolades in our sport.’
While the response to Osaka’s initial statement was decidedly mixed, the second has led to widespread support from inside and outside tennis.