Naomi Osaka wants “some level of privacy and empathy” from the media when she comes back to action and says she “couldn’t be more excited” to play at the Olympics.
Osaka has not played since retiring from Roland Garros after revealing that she would skip press conferences at Roland Garros because “people have no regard for the mental health of athletes.”
The four-time Grand Slam champion of Japan has revealed that she has suffered “long bouts of depression” since winning the US Open in 2018.
Osaka says she hasn’t changed her stance on press conferences and feels she has been unfairly scrutinized.
The world number two wrote in Time magazine: “I communicated that I wanted to avoid press conferences at Roland Garros to take care of myself and preserve my sanity. I maintain it.
âAthletes are humans. Tennis is our privileged profession, and of course there are commitments off the court that coincide. But I can’t imagine another profession where a consistent attendance record [I have missed one press conference in my seven years on tour] would be so severely scrutinized.
âMaybe we should give athletes the right to take a mental break from media scrutiny on rare occasions without being subjected to strict penalties.
âIn any other job, you’d be forgiven for taking a personal day here and there, as long as it’s not usual. You wouldn’t have to disclose your most personal symptoms to your employer; there probably would be. HR measures protecting at least a certain level of privacy.
âIn my case, I felt under great pressure to disclose my symptoms – frankly because the press and the tournament didn’t believe me. I don’t wish that on anyone and hope we can take action. to protect athletes, especially the fragile.
“I never want to have to engage in a scrutiny of my personal medical history again. So I ask the press for some level of intimacy and empathy the next time we meet.”
Osaka feels the benefits of a break and relishes representing her country at the Olympics at her home in Tokyo.
“After taking the last few weeks to recharge my batteries and spend time with my loved ones, I have had time to reflect, but also to move forward,” said the 23-year-old.
âI couldn’t be more excited to play in Tokyo. The Olympics in themselves are special, but having the opportunity to play in front of Japanese fans is a dream come true. I hope I can make them proud.â