“She’s a Human”: Former American No.1 Backs Naomi Osaka Over Mental Health Issues

Published 09/08/2021, 4:30 PM EDT
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Tennis – Women’s Singles – Round 2 – Ariake Tennis Park – Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts after winning her second round match against Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland REUTERS/Mike Segar


As the important issue of mental health continues to take center stage in the world of tennis, former player Mardy Fish has spoken about his past struggles. Another player who has openly made her mental health battles known, is former World No.1 Naomi Osaka. The Japanese superstar has been going through some issues mentally, and has even opted to take a break after her exit from the US Open 2021. Recently, Fish backed Osaka’s decision to prioritize her mental health.

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Mardy Fish’s documentary to speak about mental health

The American, Fish has released a documentary that addresses a tough time during his career. Titled ‘Untold: Breaking Point’, the series documents Fish’s tennis career, his mental battles, and the difficulties of staying competitive on tour. Interestingly, Netflix has released the documentary and it has gained widespread interest worldwide. Recently, the former player also appeared in an interview to talk about mental health.

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Talking to ABC News, Fish said “I didn’t remember, I didn’t know of any scenario or situation where athletes have gone through something like that [mental health problems], at least vocally. So I felt like if I told my story at the very least, it would give someone a success story that was in my position when I was going through it.” 

Important to understand Naomi Osaka is a human, says Fish

Sep 3, 2021; Flushing, NY, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan hits to Leylah Fernandez of Canada on day five of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The saga for Naomi began at Roland Garros 2021 with Osaka’s decision of skipping press conferences. The former World No.1 felt that the press was not a conducive environment after a difficult loss. Her decision received a lot of backlash, after which she decided to skip the event.

Ever since then, the issue of mental health, particularly surrounding Osaka, has been a hot topic. “I can’t pretend to understand the pressure that someone like her [Osaka] is going through,” admitted Fish. “I mean she has a lot of eyeballs on her first of all, I can understand that. But she’s got a ton of sponsorships and she’s the most marketable athlete of all time. So tons of respect for her in how she’s gone about opening up.”

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“She’s sad, she’s unhappy, she’s not comfortable playing right now, and you can see that, you can see it in her results unfortunately. You can see that she’s a sweet, shy person and not everybody’s born for the spotlight like this. It’s important for everyone to understand that she’s a human.” It was an honest admission from Fish, who backed Naomi all the way.

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WATCH THIS STORY: Oldest and Youngest US Open Champions Including Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Others

Kudos to brave-hearts like Osaka and Fish, who’ve led the way for people to understand the importance of mental health. We can only hope that any stigma revolving around the topic gets washed away soon. After all, it is important for all athletes to be happy with what they’re doing more than anything else!

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Sankalp Harikrishnan

249 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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