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Head Out Of The Game: Athletes, The Press, And Mental Health

Naomi Osaka of Japan looks dejected on day 5 of the the Internazionali BNL d’Italia match between Naomi Osaka of Japan and Jessica Pegula of USA at Foro Italico in Rome, Italy.
Naomi Osaka of Japan looks dejected on day 5 of the the Internazionali BNL d’Italia match between Naomi Osaka of Japan and Jessica Pegula of USA at Foro Italico in Rome, Italy.

The No. 2 female tennis player in the world, Naomi Osaka, withdrew from the French Open citing her struggles with depression and anxiety. 

Her withdrawal came after she announced she wouldn’t be speaking to the press, a requirement for professional athletes. The French Open responded by fining her $15,000 and all four Grand Slam tennis tournaments issued statements threatening to escalate the penalties.

Osaka’s decision — and the mixed response that’s followed it — has ignited a conversation about mental health in sports, specifically among Black female athletes. It’s also brought attention to the strange relationship between athletes and the sports press.

How should athletes prioritize their mental health? And what responsibilities do those who administrate sports have to help them do so?

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