2 Years After Naomi Osaka’s Controversial Decision, French Open Organizers Come Up With a Master Plan to Safe-Guard the Mental Health of Players

Published 05/22/2023, 3:40 PM EDT

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via Reuters

The lives of the top tennis players have numerous positives. For starters, they get to travel around the world. They also get opportunities to perform at the most world-famous venues, and millions of fans tune into their matches. Last but not least, they earn a lot of money through their on-court performances and endorsements. However, behind their glamorous lives, they have to work incredibly hard to maintain their form. They also remain under constant scrutiny from the media. Sometimes, the media can go overboard with their questions. Fans, too, can harass players via social media and, as a result, affect the players’ mental health. Take Naomi Osaka for example. In 2021, the Japanese sensation surprisingly withdrew her name from the French Open, citing mental health issues.

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Now, in what should prove to be a revolutionary move, the French Tennis Federation is offering tennis players the chance to protect themselves from online harassment. The Federation’s step will come into effect ahead of the 2023 French Open.

What does the French Tennis Federation’s move entail?

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The French Tennis Federation will give players access to an AI tool called Bodyguard. Players can sync their respective social media profiles with the tool. By doing so, the tool will be able to moderate comments in real-time. The incredible tool has the capacity to analyze each comment within an impressive 200 milliseconds.

The tool will also maintain constant communication with the FFT. This will ensure that all the players participating in the 2023 French Open are protected from cyber bullying. The tool can monitor a diverse array of social media platforms, such as Discord, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube. Following the announcement, Canadian tennis player Bianca Andreescu applauded the decision.

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FFT director Caroline Flaissier made the revolutionary announcement. According to Flaissier, “The mental health of the players is a priority for the Roland-Garros tournament”. Flaissier added, “We will not accept any form of violence at our tournament. We are very proud to be the first Grand Slam tournament to offer players a solution that efficiently protects them against cyberbullying.”

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Tennis Legend Venus Williams Talks About Importance of Mental Well Being and How to Achieve It

How mental health issues prompted Naomi Osaka to withdraw from 2021 French Open

The FFT is well aware of the mental health issues that led to Naomi Osaka’s unexpected withdrawal from the French Open in 2021. A chain of events resulted in Osaka’s withdrawal. It all started with Osaka’s refusal to conduct mandatory media assignments ahead of the tournament. Following Osaka’s victory in her first match, she didn’t show up for her press conference. As a result, she was slapped with a $15,000 fine.

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Osaka also received threats of further fines and expulsion if her behavior continued. It didn’t take Osaka long to make up her mind to withdraw from the tournament. Several sponsors and athletes later came out in Osaka’s support, paving the way for a tool like Bodyguard.

Watch This Story: Following Successive Frustrating Losses, Coco Gauff Reveals Career Phase that Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka Had to Live Through

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Written by:

Sudipto Pati

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Sudipto is a Tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He completed his graduation in Journalism and Mass Communication in 2012. His passion for writing became a full-time profession in 2019 after working as a musician and travelling educator.
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Edited by:

Tony Thomas

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