“People Are Scared to Come Out and Say”: Nick Kyrgios Weighs in on Mental Illness Following Naomi Osaka’s French Open 2021 Withdrawal

Published 06/23/2021, 12:57 PM EDT
Tennis -WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 12, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka looks dejected after losing her second round match against Jessica Pegula of U.S. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

For years, tennis players battling physical issues and overcoming them with utmost resilience have been cherished by millions of fans and critics alike. But, when Naomi Osaka announced her decision to skip the pressers at French Open 2021 to preserve her mental health, the reactions from tennis enthusiasts were widely critical.


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Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Japan’s Naomi Osaka in action during her semi final match against Serena Williams of the U.S. REUTERS/Kelly Defina

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When the decision was first announced by Osaka, both organizers and fans were initially confused as they struggled to find a proper reaction to the news.

Soon, the news spread like wild-fire and all the grand slam boards issued a warning to the Japanese player about the consequences to be faced if she sticks to the decision of skipping the post-match press conferences.

Owing to the reactions, Naomi Osaka withdrew mid-way from Roland Garros. A few days before, the four-time grand slam champion decided to pull out of Wimbledon Championships this year.

Nick Kyrgios expresses his opinion on mental health following French Open withdrawal of Naomi Osaka

However, Osaka will participate in the Tokyo Olympics and most likely become the flag-bearer for Japan. Amidst all the noise surrounding her, the Japanese player was able to get fans to talk more about preserving mental health in a lonely sport like tennis.

Talking about the same, Australian tennis sensation Nick Kyrgios felt that a lot of people are still reluctant to talk about their mental health even with their friends and family.

General people these days, genuinely feel, like, scared to come out and say -‘I am actually struggling mentally’. They are afraid to go to their friends or their parents because they think they are wake or something”, said Kyrgios.

Even though Kyrgios didn’t share his views on Osaka’s withdrawal, the Australian player gave his views on how common people are still unwilling to talk about mental health in public forums.

“We have all been through some pretty rough places” – Kyrgios

I feel like we have all gone and been through some pretty rough places where we were struggling. We got to just take stones of where things, like, where people are trying to hide behind”,  concluded the Aussie.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 12, 2021 Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in action during his third round match against Austria’s Dominic Thiem REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

Following Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open, several of her counterparts felt that it’s the duty of a player to attend press conferences. Players like Rafael Nadal, Kei Nishikori, Sofia Kenin, etc have all expressed the same opinion while respecting Naomi’s decision.


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While the discussion surrounding mental health of athletes is yet to grab a foothold, it lies in the hands of players like Nick Kyrgios and Naomi Osaka to steer the discussion going forward.


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Sagar Ashtakoula

334 articles

Sagar Ashtakoula is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He has been following the sport since 2007. Having developed an interest in creating content, he mixed his passion for writing with his love for tennis for 2 years at SportsKeeda before joining the tennis team at EssentiallySports.