Naomi Osaka is the superhero that we didn't know we needed in our lives. Or maybe we did? I mean, I knew she was a superhero from the moment she boldly and unapologetically took the stage in the name of police brutality in 2020. She was over the questioning as to why she decided to represent for Black pain, and decided to bring the message to the covers of Vogue Magazine. Emmett Till's name and legacy is in Vogue. VOGUE. A place where at the time of his murder, he would have never been welcome.
Alexa, throw on "What A Time To Be Alive."
Because witnessing Naomi is just that. But this time, thanks to her routine fearlessness, Naomi is being a leader in a different way: by removing herself from one of the biggest tournaments in the game of tennis all for the sake of her mental health.
It all started when she announced via social media that she would not partake in this year's French Open press, mainly because the constant questioning and scrutiny created an added layer of stress to the athlete. The four-time major champion and No. 2-ranked player was eventually fined $15,000 when she didn't speak to reporters after her first-round victory, causing the champ to pull out of the tournament entirely the next day.
Her entire statement is below:
The courage of removing herself for herself, encouraged other athletes to take a step back and question what it means to be forced to face constant questioning and berating on a grand scale. And a plethora of athletes and celebs alike, who understand her perspective firsthand, gathered around and supported her 1000 percent.
From fellow tennis champions Venus Williams, Coco Gauff, and Sloan Stephens:
All the way to other pro-athletes who could relate:
(Sidebar: it's worth noting that Kyrie Irving has been fined $60,000 this season alone for skipping media obligations.)
As for now, the French Open's President responded to Naomi's withdrawal by saying he wishes Osaka "the quickest possible recovery." Um, OK. I'm sure there will be more to come from them on the subject, but anyway.
Thankfully, what we can all appreciate about Naomi's courage is that maybe if we took a step back and took the time to think differently about the processes in place, then maybe we have the opportunity to witness pro-athletes compete at an all-time higher level, especially with personal battles in tact.
As for us, we're going to always support and protect this queen at all costs. Here's to hoping that we all do the same. Take care of yourself, Naomi!
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Featured image by Graham Denholm/Getty Images