Aside from NBA stars like Stephen Curry, Ja Morant, and Damian Lillard, embattled tennis star Naomi Osaka got another supporter in tennis legend Pam Shriver.
Shriver blasted the United States Tennis Association (USTA) officials for their role in Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open. Shriver said USTA officials should’ve been more sensitive to the 23-year-old Osaka, who’s dealing with mental health issues (via Marc Berman of New York Post).
“They needed to be more compassionate and supportive in the situation and deal with it behind the scenes. They’ll never say it, but I’m sure they’d like to have it back. They lost one of the superstars of the game. Part of the statement was appropriate but I thought bringing in fines and code of conduct and the possibility of default was wrong. Until you know all the facts about someone’s health, I didn’t like it.’’
Osaka withdrew from the prestigious Grand Slam tournament on Monday after she got fined $15,000 for refusing to participate in any press conferences due to her anxiety concerns. She was also threatened by tournament officials to be banned from competing in the French Open.
For the 58-year-old Shriver, who won 22 Grand Slam doubles titles and was a former world no. 1, Osaka did the right thing.
“I was thinking Osaka played well with everything going on. I thought maybe she realized she could find a way to go back holding press conferences and return to the more normal major routine to de-escalate the situation. I was wrong. She chose to de-escalate by doing the best thing for her. I don’t see how she could’ve competed the rest of the way because the situation was getting out of hand.’’
Naomi Osaka has been battling depression since shocking Serena Williams for the 2018 US Open title. She has openly talked about her struggles, being an ardent advocate for mental health awareness.