Japan joined leading figures in tennis in rallying around Naomi Osaka on Tuesday after the world No. 2 withdrew from the French Open in a row about post-match media duties, saying she had been suffering from “depression” and “anxiety.”
Osaka stunned the tennis world when she pulled out of the Grand Slam on Monday after being fined and threatened with expulsion for declining to face the media after her first-round match.
“Kudos to Naomi Osaka for caring so much about the other players,” said women’s tennis great Martina Navratilova. “While she tried to make a situation better for herself and others, she inadvertently made it worse.”
The 23-year-old star was forced to choose between her mental well-being and her responsibilities as one of the most visible figures in the sport, writes Jason Coskrey. In her wake, she leaves questions about mental health, the humanity of athletes and the media’s role in all of it.
As Christopher Clarey writes in The New York Times, the tragedy is that l’affaire Osaka could likely have been avoided through better communication and smarter decisions — on both sides.
For one, the French Open may now be rueing its divisive, now-deleted tweet praising several tennis legends for attending past news conferences. The caption: “They understood the assignment.”