On Monday, the coldest tennis player in the game, Noami Osaka, withdrew from the French Open. Citing concerns about her own mental health, Osaka made the best decision for her, avoiding the opportunity to add another Grand Slam title to her bid to be one of the GOATs.
Osaka is one of the biggest bag pickers in sports and easily one of the most famous and before pulling out of the French Open entirely, he was scheduled to sit outside of press conferences. The decision to retire came after a head clash between the star and tennis officials, as the trauma at the time became too much for the young star to handle.
“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I retire so that everyone can get back to concentrating on the tennis that takes place in Paris,” Osaka said in an Instagram post.
Her initial decision not to speak to reporters amplified the issue, however it is not the star’s fault. Instead, the public and the media feel empowered to have access to every moment of an athlete’s life. That includes before and after games, as well as believing that the athlete has a responsibility to constantly be on IG and chat with the timeline.
“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my moment was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” he added. “The truth is, I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and it has taken me a long time to deal with it.”
Osaka, a future theme of ESPN’s Black History Always, a series chronicling the heroes of black sports culture, is receiving support from brands and sponsors, but also from other public figures.
“Hi Naomi. You are right. You are wrong! I’m with you, ”Will Smith shared in an Instagram post.
“Our thoughts are with Naomi. We support her and recognize her courage in sharing her own mental health experience, ”Nike said in a statement. Levi’s, GoDaddy, Beats Electronics, and more echoed similar statements.
Osaka isn’t the only athlete to reveal a battle with his own sanity while performing in front of the world. Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love has become an advocate for mental health, especially in sports.
Love was a guest on HBO and Bron Bron’s The Shop in 2019, and said he “hit the lowest point of my life” during the 2017-18 season. It was around this time that ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan asked him about some rumors that he was having trouble, which he said initially got angry and tried to shut up. However, he later decided that he did not want anyone else to tell his story for him.
Love’s remarks would open the door for then-Toronto Raptors point guard DeMar DeRozan to also express his battles with depression, anxiety and loneliness.
“It’s one of those things that no matter how indestructible we seem, we’re all human at the end of the day,” DeRozan said. “We all have feelings. . . all of that. Sometimes. . . gets the best of you, where the whole world is on top of you. “
In a Toronto Star report, DeRozan would reveal how depression took hold of him and spread to social media.
Mental health trauma has also affected members of the Hip-Hop community. 20-year-old Dallas rapper Lil Loaded, whose real name is Dashawn Maurice Robertson, hit the music scene in 2019 and passed away last week. The rising talent wrote a letter to the “higher one” before his death and his mother revealed that he had recently suffered a bad breakup. Was the reported loss of a baby too great a trauma to bear the additional components of the fight for mental health?
Lil Loaded is just a case of mental health problems in Hip-Hop, which are often alleviated by self-medication.
What can we as a culture do to promote positive mental health? The path begins inside. Maintain your own mental health and continue educating yourself on ways to be a positive influence on others.
But what about ours for our public figures? The immediate solution is not to pressure them to be open books at all times. But also support their initiatives to promote mental wellness, like the new Big Sean series that you launched with your mother during Mental Health Awareness Month.
“I feel like Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect time to talk to my mom about some of the things I’ve learned from her that have helped me along the way, and I hope they help others,” Sean said of the Serie.
So no matter how much we tune in to a game or listen to an album, we must be prepared to support everyone’s mental health.