Roland Garros news, Naomi Osaka’s masterpiece after backing off

A few years ago, a star who was eliminated from a major tennis tournament due to mental health problems could be seen as a sign of weakness.

Today, at least for corporate sponsors Naomi Osaka, he is hailed as refreshingly honest.

That would explain why so many of them stayed in Osaka after the four-time Grand Slam champion announced on Monday that she was withdrawing from the French Open because she refused to appear at the required press conferences that caused her “huge waves of anxiety.”

Osaka, who also admitted suffering from “long bouts of depression,” has faced criticism from some who said media events are only “part of the job.” But Nike, Sweetgreen and other sponsors made statements in support of the 23-year-old star after revealing her struggles.

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“Our thoughts are with Naomi,” Nike said in a statement. “We support her and appreciate her courage in sharing her own mental health experience.” Sweetgreen tweeted that his partnership with Osaka “is rooted in good health in all its forms.” And Mastercard tweeted: “Naomi Osaka’s decision reminds us all of the importance of prioritizing personal health and well-being.”

Allen Adamson, co-founder of consulting firm Metaforce, said the disclosure of Osaka made her a more authentic spokeswoman – and more valuable to corporate sponsors.

“Every athlete receives sports sponsorship because they win matches or perform well,” he said. “But the best become true brand ambassadors when they have a broader personality. The best brand ambassadors are real people. (Osaka) talks about a problem that matters to many people. Mental health is a bigger problem than winning or losing tennis.

Reilly Opelka, a 23-year-old American tennis player 32nd seed at the French Open, who played his third-round match on Friday, told the Associated Press that he was glad Osaka was “taking the time to improve.”

“She is one of the best players in the world – she is very influential” – said Opelka. “Sport needs her. She is an icon. It is a pity that in sports there is not one of the main attractions nearby. “

Born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian, Osaka moved to the United States with her family at the age of three and now lives in Los Angeles.

She played a leading role in protesting the deaths of George Floyd and other blacks who died at the hands of the police while wearing a mask bearing another victim’s name on each match day at the US Open 2020. She was named AP’s 2020 Athlete of the Year.

Osaka is the highest-paid athlete in the world, according to Forbes, earning $ 48 million in 2020 from sponsors such as Tag Heuer, AirBnB, and Louis Vuitton, as well as Mastercard and Nike.

Nike stood alongside sports stars after other controversies, including Tiger Woods after his sex scandal in 2009 and former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick after he knelt during matches to protest police brutality against blacks. But he recently ditched Brazilian soccer star Neymar after refusing to cooperate in an internal investigation into allegations of sexual assault by a Nike employee.

The disclosure of Osaka comes as celebrities and other public figures openly address their issues of depression and anxiety. Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle shared their experiences in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey and have since teamed up to create a mental health series called “The Me You Can’t See,” in which Prince Harry talks about the work through anxiety and regret.

Osaka also joins the growing list of top mental health athletes. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, NBA players Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan, and WNBA’s A’ja Wilson have spoken very publicly about their struggles against depression, sharing both their successes and failures.

Four Grand Slam tournaments responded to Osaka’s withdrawal by pledging to do more to address players’ mental health issues. The episode could also serve as a turning point for professional tennis tournaments – and leagues in other sports – to protect the mental health, not just the physical health of athletes, said Windy Dees, professor of sports administration at the University of Miami.

“This is an absolute growth opportunity for the (Women’s Tennis Association) and all leagues, there is a lot of work to be done,” said Dees.

Dokic takes into account the media stance in Osaka

Marketing consultant Adamson believes that Osaka’s decision to step will encourage many more athletes to expose their battles for mental health. He noted that if Osaka had exposed her bouts of depression 10 years ago, her corporate sponsors would likely have remained aloof as the case was taboo. However, he noted that the pandemic has increased awareness of mental illness.

From August 2020 to February, the proportion of adults with recent symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder rose from 36.4% to 41.5%, according to a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Census Bureau.

The study also found that the percentage of people reporting that they did not receive the help they needed increased from 9.2% to 11.7%. The increases were greatest among adults aged 18–29 and those with education below secondary school.

Ken Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance On Mental Illness, said Osaka’s decision to go public is a positive change for all people who feel isolated.

“We go from mental health and mental illness as” they “to” we, “he said. “These are ordinary, common human problems. And I strongly believe that isolation and shame directly contribute to people not getting help. I look at a great athlete, an exceptional athlete as one potential role model. ”

Osaka withdraws from Roland Garros

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