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French Open Tennis. Roland-Garros 2021.

Source: Tim Clayton – Corbis / Getty

Managing mental health in the public eye is a complicated feat on its own. Throw in being a highly revered Black athlete like Naomi Osaka and it turns into a media circus.

Recently, the tennis superstar announced she’s opting not to participate in another sports event, giving her an added couple of weeks to chill out before heading to one of the highly anticipated tournaments of the season.

According to ET Online, Osaka withdrew from the Berlin WTA 5000 tournament just weeks after pulling out of the French Open, all to keep her mental health in check.

“We have received notification Naomi Osaka cannot start in Berlin. After consulting her management, she will take a break,” Berlin event organizers said in a statement.

From the outside, it appears to be a strategic move. Berlin is scheduled to start June 14, just two weeks before her big tournament at Wimbledon on June 28.  The extra two weeks of public detoxing could be the key to her success when she’s back on the court.  However, many outlets speculate that this is a sign she will withdraw from that game, too.

In her initial post on social media, the 23-year-old stated she would be skipping post-match press conferences to safeguard her mental health from press conferences, which she did in a tournament before the French Open.  Officials fined her $15,000 for her protest, which inspired her to skip out on the French Open all together.

When Osaka announced her withdrawal, the statement cited mental health reasons and wanting the attention and focus on being on the game, not her. 

“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,” she said in the statement. “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. 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.”

We hope Naomi Osaka is getting better during her downtime. We’re rooting for her whenever she’s back on the court.

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