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Following her withdrawal from the French Open on Monday, Nike has expressed her decision to sit out the sporting event for the sake of her mental health.
“Our thoughts are with Naomi. We support her and recognize her courage in sharing her own mental health experience,” Nike said in a statement per CNN Business. Osaka inked a deal with the apparel brand back in 2019.
Last week, she announced that she would not be participating in any news conferences during the upcoming French Open while citing her need to preserve her mental health as the reason.
“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” she wrote. “We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”
Osaka is a four-time major champion and is currently the No. 2-ranked women’s tennis player in the world.
Osaka made it clear that she was aware that she would be fined for sitting out the new conferences, but hoped officials would note her reasons and donate her fines to a mental health charity.
The tennis star was fined $15,000 after she skipped the news conference following her opening match victory on Sunday.
“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can go back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” she said after receiving the fine.
Serena Williams also shared her support during an interview with the Associated Press.
“I feel for Naomi,” she said. “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. That’s the only thing I can say: I think she is doing the best she can.”
Social media has rallied around Osaka. Her stepping away from the tournament has raised debate surrounding the mental health of Black women in the media and the glaring lack of support.