Boris Becker has expressed his concerns over the future of Naomi Osaka’s career after her French Open withdrawal.
Becker, the six-time Grand Slam champion from Germany, fears ‘her career is in danger because of mental health issues’.
Osaka had originally announced her plan to skip press conferences during the French Open but was met with a fine of more than £10,000 and warned that she could be expelled from the tournament.
She ultimately took the decision out of the authorities’ hands by pulling out of the event.
‘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,’ she wrote in a statement.
‘I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media,’ she continued. ‘I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can.’
Osaka added that she would ‘take some time away from the court now’ but Becker is concerned over the long-term effects on the four-time major winner’s professional life.
‘Sadly I’ve heard her first response a couple of days ago about this media boycott and she cited mental health issues, that’s something always to be taken seriously, especially from such a young woman,’ Becker told Eurosport.
Analysis: Is Naomi Osaka’s career really in danger?
It’s been shown time and time again that athletes – and, indeed, people in all walks of life – can thrive despite having struggled with mental illness.
Osaka is one of the strongest tennis players of her generation, winning four Grand Slams to date.
There’s no shame in taking a break for self-care – far from it – and there is no reason why she couldn’t pick up where she left off whenever she feels comfortable to return.
For too long there has been a false, confused narrative in sporting spheres that mental illness is a sign of weakness. I have no doubt Osaka will be back.
After all, she says she has been struggling with bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018. Since then she has:
- Twice won the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021
- Won a second US Open in 2020
- Become world No. 1
- Gone on a 24-match win streak
- Won five of the seven titles in her career to date
‘She couldn’t cope with the pressures of facing the media, especially after losing a match. Now Mats, you and me both know that happens frequently and you have to deal with it and I always believed that is part of the job.
‘Without the media there isn’t any prize money, there isn’t any contracts. And you don’t get half the cake. I hated the media personally. I didn’t like to speak to journalists but I had to do it.
‘She has cited that she is pulling out of the tournament altogether because she can’t cope with it.
‘That raises much bigger questions for me because if she can’t cope with the media in Paris, she can’t cope with the media at Wimbledon, she can’t cope with the media at the US Open.
‘I almost feel like her career is in danger because of mental health issues and that we should take very seriously.’
For more stories like this, check our sport page.
Follow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Source: Read Full Article