As she continues to take a stand against forceful media obligations, tennis star Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the Berlin WTA 5000 tournament, a pre-Wimbledon event set for June 14. This comes a couple weeks after the 23-year-old withdrew from the French Open, where she was fined $15,000 for skipping her media obligations in order to prioritize her mental health.
“Though the tennis press has always been kind to me, I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media,” Osaka said in a May 31 statement posted to Twitter following her French Open withdrawal.
Her decision to withdraw from the French Open and the Berlin WTA 5000 has been subject to much debate in the tennis world as well as the overall professional sports community. Athletes across all sports have media obligations written into the contracts that pay theim their monumental salaries, and Osaka has been criticized for choosing to skip out on her French Open press. But she’s managed to turn this controversy into a crucial moment of mental health advocacy, one highlighting that even the world’s biggest star athletes aren’t living perfect and happy lives.
“I’m gonna take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans,” Osaka said later in her French Open withdrawal statement.
For the moment, Osaka is still set to play in Wimbledon starting June 28, but her decision to pull out of the Berlin tune-up tournament is raising doubts about whether she will play in that event too.
What do you think about Osaka’s decision to prioritize her mental health and skip out on her media obligations? Comment below.