German tennis legend Boris Becker fears that Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka’s “career is in danger” after she pulled out of the ongoing Roland Garros. The 23-year-old had earlier announced she would not be taking part in mandatory press conferences in Paris in order to protect her “mental health”. It prompted a strong response from the four Grand Slams. Finally on Monday evening, Osaka announced on Twitter that she would be withdrawing from the event in Paris.
She wrote in her statement, “Hey everyone, this isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.
“I never wanted to be a distraction. I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly.
“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. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m introverted, and anyone that’s seen me at tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety.”
Becker said in the Eurosport Cube that mental health issues should be “taken seriously”. “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,” he added.
“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.”
Touching on the aspect of how she will now struggle to cope with the media in other Grand Slams as well, Becker feels that “her career is in danger”. “She has cited that she is pulling out of the tournament altogether because she can’t cope with it,” he said.
“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.”