WTA Players’ Councilmember Sloane Stephens heaped praise on Naomi Osaka for withdrawing from the French Open to focus on her mental health. Stephens said that World Number two should be ‘supported and applauded’ for her decision. Naomi Osaka was fined for not attending her post-match press conference. She was then warned that missing out on further press conferences could lead to disqualification. Naomi Osaka has been suffering from depression ever since her first Grand Slam win in 2018.
“Having to take a step back and say, ‘Hey, I need to do this for me’, we should support her and applaud her, because a lot of people wouldn’t do that,” Sloane Stephens said about Naomi Osaka. “A lot of people play through being miserable and being upset and not being able to speak out and say those things.”
“We should be more accepting and allow her to take the time she needs to work on herself and better herself so she can be in a better position to play tennis and be happy and enjoy her tennis,” she added. “Feelings are real and we’re all human, so I hope she takes the time she needs. I hope she feels better and I hope she gets back to winning.”
Stephens has said that she hopes Osaka will come back stronger after the break she is taking from the court. Stephens’ fellow professional Coco Gauff who shared an emotional interview with Osaka following her defeat in the US Open had the same sentiments. Gauff said it was unfortunate that Osaka was going through these problems and wished there was a way she could help her. She revealed that a number of players have gone through similar problems in the past. Gauff also hoped that Osaka could come out of this break stronger.