Following Naomi Osaka‘s decision to withdraw from the French Open on Monday (May 31), athletes from across all sports offer their support to the U.S. Open and Australian Open singles champion.
Prior to the highly anticipated French Open, the 23-year-old announced that she would not participate in press interviews to preserve her mental health. Osaka was fined $15,000 on Sunday (May 30) for not meeting the media interview requirements; the athlete also picked up her first win earlier in the day.
Osaka posted a message on Instagram which explained to her 2.3 million followers her decision to withdraw from the French Open.
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“The best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” she wrote in an IG post. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly.”
Serena Williams, 39, came to her defense and spoke out on the incident on Monday during a post-match news conference.
“I feel for Naomi. Not everyone is the same. I’m thick. Other people are thin. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently. You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to and the best way she thinks she can,” she said according to the Associated Press. “That’s the only thing I can say: I think she is doing the best she can.”
Other athletes, including NBA player Stephen Curry, former WNBA player Lisa Leslie and more, also showed their support for Osaka.