The reigning U.S. Open and Australian Open singles champion announced on Monday that she would not participate in the press conference at the French Open, Roland Garros, citing stress and anxiety, as Blavity previously reported. In forgoing the media requirements, the 23-year-old was fined a whopping $15,000 and as a result made the decision to withdraw completely from the tournament."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 wrote in an emotional note 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."
Black women and mental health have seemingly been recognized in society as oxymorons, unpairable. A report from Johns Hopkins Medicine said far too many women of color don’t get the medical attention they need to better manage their anxiety. Osaka’s decision to focus her attention on mental health highlights the first step several Black women have slowly begun to achieve.
It was also applauded by other celebrities. Several have since spoken out amid the drama to show her support, BuzzFeed reported.
The day after Osaka’s announcement, acclaimed sports journalist Stephen A. Smith responded to the controversy by admitting he has struggled with depression and understood her reasoning to put focus elsewhere. However, he also acknowledged that athletes hold a responsibility to do all of their job, part of which includes giving time to the media.Serena Williams said she wished she could give Osaka a hug after having dealt with her own struggles.
"Not everyone is the same. I'm thick. Other people are thin. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently," Williams said. "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."Osaka is also being supported by the Calm app, as Blavity previously reported. They announced earlier this week it matched her fine and other future fines.