HomeHealthHow my battle with depression started in 2018 —Naomi Osaka

How my battle with depression started in 2018 —Naomi Osaka

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Amarachi Okeh

Japanese professional tennis player, Naomi Osaka says she has suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018, noting that she has had difficulty coping with the mental health condition.

Osaka who is the reigning US Open and Australia Open champion said that, contrary to what her critics think, she would never trivialise mental health issues.

The four-time Grand Slam singles champion stated this on her verified Twitter handle, @naomiosaka on Monday while announcing her withdrawal from the French Open, noting that she is struggling with depression.

Her tweet reads, “Hey everyone, this isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. I think now 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. 

“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 trivialise mental health or use the term lightly. The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that. 

“Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety. 

“Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologise especially to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt), I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media. 

“I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can. 

“So, here in Paris, I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences. 

“I announced it preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that. 

“I wrote privately to the tournament apologizing and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the Slams are intense. 

“I’m gonna take some time away from the court now; but when the time is right, I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press, and fans…”

Osaka was fined $15,000 for not conducting a post-match press conference following her first-round win against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania yesterday. 

Last Wednesday, the 23-year-old had released a statement on Twitter declaring her intention to skip the press conference at the French Open because of the effects interactions with the press have on her mental health.

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