Stars across the sports world are standing behind Naomi Osaka.
On Monday, the reigning U.S. Open and Australian Open singles champion announced she was withdrawing from the French Open.
Ahead of the tennis tournament’s start, Osaka announced she wouldn’t be doing press during the championship in an effort to preserve her mental health. On Sunday, Osaka picked up her first win and a $15,000 fine for not participating in media requirements.
“The best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” Osaka, 23, wrote on social media. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly.”
In the wake of her announcement, Osaka’s famous friends and fans showed her their support.
Serena Williams spoke out during a post-match news conference on Monday. “I feel for Naomi. Not everyone is the same. I’m thick. Other people are thin. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently. You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to and the best way she thinks she can. That’s the only thing I can say: I think she is doing the best she can,” she said, according to the Associated Press.
Williams, 39, added that many of the press conferences have been “very difficult,” but they have “made me stronger.”
18-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Navratilova tweeted, “I am so sad about Naomi Osaka. I truly hope she will be ok. As athletes we are taught to take care of our body, and perhaps the mental & emotional aspect gets short shrift. This is about more than doing or not doing a press conference. Good luck Naomi —we are all pulling for you!”
Billie Jean King — 39 Grand Slam winner in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles — also tweeted, writing, “It’s incredibly brave that Naomi Osaka has revealed her truth about her struggle with depression. Right now, the important thing is that we give her the space and time she needs. We wish her well.”
Grand Slam tennis competitor Coco Gauff tweeted, “Stay strong I admire your vulnerability,” while Olympian gymnast Laurie Hernandez wrote, “Even though it shouldn’t have to be like this, I’m proud of you for putting your foot down. Your mental health matters and should always come first.”
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: PEOPLE, Naledi Ushe