Former Olympic Gold Medalist Feels Naomi Osaka Raising Mental Health Awareness Was More Than Sports

Published 10/01/2021, 1:30 PM EDT
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 03: Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts against Leylah Fernandez of Canada during her Women’s Singles third round match on Day Five of the US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 03, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)


Tennis player Naomi Osaka has been one of the key players on the women’s Tour. She has enjoyed tremendous success in recent times and at the age of 23 years, she is already the winner of four Grand Slam events.

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Recently, Zina Garrison, former Olympic gold medalist, reflected on the issue raised by Naomi Osaka earlier this season. During the French Open this year, she stated she would not take part in post-match press conferences due to issues with her mental health. The former American player felt the Japanese star has got global attention to this issue. 

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Speaking on this topic, Zina stated, “When [Naomi] came out and said, ‘Hey, hold on, I want to take a break,’ she opened up the awareness, more so for sports, but also in the working community. I was talking to a friend not too long ago and she said because of Naomi, now her job is really looking at giving people a couple of days for mental health. And then Simone took it to a whole ‘nother level.”

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Besides Osaka, American gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from events at the Tokyo Olympics this year. She also expressed concerns over mental health issues. The use of social media in today’s world has its disadvantages as much as people see the advantage of it. The fact they were bold enough to come a make public their feeling was applauded by many sports fans.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 03: Naomi Osaka of Japan throws her racket down in frustration against Leylah Fernandez of Canada in the third round of the women’s singles at the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 03, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

The former World No. 4 added, “And us as athletes, or former athletes, that’s all part of learning how to balance. But in this day and age, with social media and everything, things get out there very quickly and it can be good and it can be bad. But the fact is, they were both strong enough, Simone and Naomi, to say, ‘Hey, sometimes you need you just need to take a break.”

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Naomi was recently seen in New York at the US Open. However, she was unable to defend her title. We hope she can end the season on a more positive note and it will be interesting to see how she performs in the upcoming season.

Watch this story: Top Seeds Naomi Osaka, John Isner, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, and Others Who Faced Huge Upsets at US Open

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Rohan Kollare

1168 articles

Rohan Kollare is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. Rohan has a post-graduate diploma in Sports Management and a trophy cabinet adorned with accolades won in district and state-level tennis competitions. He has previously worked in Content Operations for Disney’s Hotstar for over a year, covering tennis and Formula One.

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