“Can Certainly Understand”: Andy Murray Sympathizes with Naomi Osaka Over Wimbledon Championships 2021 Withdrawal

Published 06/22/2021, 6:04 AM 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

Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has voiced sympathy for women’s World No. 2 Naomi Osaka in the wake of her withdrawal from this year’s Wimbledon Championships.


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Speaking to Sky News, the two-time Wimbledon champion said that being in a hardcore and highly competitive professional arena at a relatively young age is taxing on the mind and could even take its toll on an athlete.

Osaka courted global headlines following her shock pullout from the French Open, which was widely seen as a fallout of the organizers threatening her with expulsion in the wake of her decision not to do press during the tournament.


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Andy Murray says dealing with injuries has been tough mentally

Coming out with her announcement on Twitter, the 23-year-old Japanese had revealed her struggles with mental illness over the last couple of years and bouts of anxiety attacks when it came to dealing with the press. Osaka added that she is not a practiced public speaker and often feels ill-at-ease in a room full of journalists and before glaring flashbulbs.

Tennis – ATP 500 – Queen’s Club Championships – Queen’s Club, London, Britain – June 15, 2021 Britain’s Andy Murray in action during his round of 32 match against France’s Benoit Paire Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Drawing on his own experiences, Murray said that dealing with as many injuries as he has over the last few years has been tough mentally. He added that dealing with the rigors of being in a high-intensity sport is not something that every athlete takes to like a duck to water.

“I’ve obviously dealt with a lot of injuries in the last few years which has been tough mentally, but when I was younger dealing with the pressure of playing a high-level sport is not something that you are prepared for,” the Scot said.

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Murray says he found it harder dealing with the press in his early years

The former British No. 1 said that while he appreciates that there are a lot of people who are a lot less privileged than “multi-million pound tennis players”, it, perhaps, isn’t easy to understand the emotional roller coaster and the mental challenges that an athlete goes through unless one has been in his/her position.

“I appreciate that I’m very lucky — I get to play sport and stuff and there are people who are in significantly worse positions than multi-million pound tennis players, but I think unless you’ve been in that situation people wouldn’t understand,” Murray said.

He added that he found it hard to deal with the press in his early years as a tennis pro and got better at it with time, experience, and a changed perspective.


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“Earlier on in my career I did find it harder dealing with the press side of things and the attention, whereas now I have a quite different perspective on things, so it’s fine. But I can certainly understand how athletes do struggle with it,” Murray added.

Returning to singles action at the Queens Club Championships, Murray won his tournament opener against Frenchman Benoit Paire before going down in the next round to eventual champion Matteo Berrettini. He is eyeing a golden harvest in what many consider as his last Wimbledon.


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Priyabrata Chowdhury

1101 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.



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