It is truly easy to be impressed by the actions of world-famous tennis player Naomi Osaka. Most think it is her tennis ability that I am impressed with however they are incorrect. I am impressed by her decision-making ability regarding her mental health. The number 2 tennis player in the world, chose a couple of weeks ago to step back from tennis to focus on the depression and social anxiety that she has been dealing with since winning her first US Open in 2018.
Prior to making this decision, Naomi was playing in the French Open and after the first match, she did not participate in a press conference and was find a fee for not doing so. Professional athletes have press obligations as a part of their responsibilities.
In the case of Naomi Osaka and any professional athlete, the press responsibilities need to be redefined and expanded for someone dealing with depression or any other mental health diagnosis. This is another part of mental health treatment that needs to be discussed and expanded upon.
What I’ve observed about her thus far, it seems playing tennis is the easiest thing for her to do when dealing with depression because she is her own teammate…tennis is an excellent sport for an introvert…but dealing with fans and the press would be a challenge Naomi at this time would rather not take on.
An introvert is typically not a big fan of crowds of people, they relish in small and intimate gatherings with friends and family. Large crowds deplete the energy of an introvert, the accolades that they get from the fans while welcomed is not the reason that they play the sport. Meaning if only 10 people were watching them play they would have more enjoyment from a small number of people versus hundreds of people. Most introverts get their energy within themselves. Having depression magnifies this even more.
Based on what I read, Naomi Osaka was generous and self-aware in her statement when she tweeted she was taking a step back.
It is easy for me to celebrate and give an accolade to Naomi Osaka because I am not a part of the sporting world’s discourse. I am a trained mental health counselor and I always pat people on the back when they voice personal responsibility and own their side of the street so to speak. Well done, Naomi!
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