Naomi Osaka admits Olympics was an ‘eye-opener’ as athletes praised her for raising awareness about mental health

Shahida Jacobs
Naomi Osaka zoning in

She admits she wasn’t initially proud following her decision to withdraw from Roland Garros in order to protect her mental health, but Naomi Osaka has revealed she has changed her perspective.

Ahead of the 2021 French Open, Osaka announced that she would not do the mandatory press conferences. After going through with her pledge following her first-round win, the four Grand Slams threatened to expel her from the tournament and other majors.

The 23-year-old then announced her withdrawal from the clay-court event, revealing she was suffering from depression, while she also missed Wimbledon.

She finally returned to action at the Tokyo Games, where she lit the Olympic flame, but lost in the third round of the singles event.

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Osaka will return to regular WTA action at the Cincinnati Masters this week and when asked if she was proud after raising awareness about mental health, she replied: “I would say for me, in that moment I wasn’t really proud. I felt like it was something I needed to do for myself.

“More than anything, I felt like I holed up in my house for a couple of weeks, and I was a little bit embarrassed to go out because I didn’t know if people were looking at me in a different way than they usually did before.

“I think the biggest eye-opener was going to the Olympics and having other athletes come up to me and say that they were really glad that I did what I did. So after all that, yeah, I’m proud of what I did, and I think it was something that needed to be done.”