“Respect the Decisions”: Maria Sharapova Backs Naomi Osaka While Speaking About Mental Health

Published 09/09/2021, 11:03 AM EDT
Sep 3, 2021; Flushing, NY, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan gestures after missing a shot against Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada (not pictured) on day five of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports


After retiring from the game, Russia’s Maria Sharapova has played an active role as an entrepreneur. She is also doing a lot of interviews, and recently spoke about Naomi Osaka and her decision of taking a break from tennis. As the mental health topic comes to the forefront, Sharapova has also spoken out about it, and how people need to respect athletes’ decisions.

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SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – OCTOBER 23: Maria Sharapova attends a press conference during her visit to bring aid for hurricane relief at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport on October 23, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Gladys Vega/Getty Images)

Former World No.1 Osaka has self-admittedly not been enjoying the game off-late. At the French Open, she decided to skip press conferences, as they made her feel low after a loss. The decision was not very well received in the tennis world, but made everyone stand up and talk about mental health. As the season progressed, Osaka seemed like a shadow of herself. After her shock exit from the US Open 2021, she has announced that she will be taking a break from the game.

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Maria Sharapova comes in support of Naomi Osaka

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 31: Naomi Osaka of Japan celebrates winning after her Women’s Singles third round match against Cori Gauff of the United States on day six of the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 31, 2019 in Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Sharapova is a 5-time Grand Slam winner, and a former World No.1 herself. She was on the circuit for a long time, and knows how it is to have the spotlight on oneself. She is also aware of the mental demands to stay at the highest level in the game of tennis. When asked about the Osaka situation in an interview, the Russian had a lot to say“We all need to be incredibly supportive of athletes who are going through tough times in their careers,” quoted the 34-year-old veteran.

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“Naomi [Osaka] is an incredible athlete and a beautiful human being, who has a very long career ahead of her. We all need to respect the decisions that players make at times of vulnerability, when they’re feeling down or not playing their best tennis. To be honest, not many people know what’s going on behind the scenes and how players feel. You only see the tennis game and what happens on the court. The more support that we can provide, the better they will be and the better that they will play.”

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From one Grand Slam winner to another, it was a heartfelt message from Sharapova to Osaka and the public. Hopefully, the break benefits the Japanese star, and she makes a successful return next year.

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Sankalp Harikrishnan

230 articles

Sankalp Harikrishnan is a tennis and NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He aspires to pursue Sports Journalism and has represented his institution in cricket, badminton, football, and table tennis. Apart from his professional desires, Sankalp does voluntary service with his friends to feed hungry animals on a regular basis.

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