World famous footwear producer Nike expressed its support of tennis star Naomi Osaka after the athlete withdrew from the French Open despite winning straight sets, citing mental health issues.
The company previously signed a sponsorship deal with Osaka in 2019 and is now supporting the athlete in her decision to open up about her problems. "Our thoughts are with Naomi. We support her and recognize her courage in sharing her own mental health experience," Nike said in a statement.
Osaka finalized her withdrawal from the tournament after the French Open imposed a $15,000 fine on her for refusing to speak with the media after her first-round win against Patricia Maria Tig. Afterward, the four-time major champion posted on Twitter that she has long been fighting against bouts of depression since 2018 after winning her first Grand Slam.
In a statement, the Roland Garros said Osaka failed to abide by her contractual media obligations when she refused the meeting. It also said the tournament's Code of Conduct imposed a fine for such behavior.
Fighting Mental Health Issues
"Naomi Osaka's decision reminds us all how important it is to prioritize personal health and well-being. We support her and admire her courage to address important issues, both on and off the court," Mastercard (MA) said, CNN reported.
In 2019, Osaka joined Mastercard's roster of global ambassadors, becoming the first number one tennis player to do so. Another world-famous brand that expressed its support for the tennis player was Swiss luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer. It said Osaka was filled with the strength to come back from her predicament stronger than before.
Osaka's recent fight with mental health issues comes years after another athlete, Titus Young, a former receiver for the Detroit Lions whose life took a sad turn of events. After he was cut out of the NFL, he became a frequent detainee for illegal activity and violent behavior.
Medical experts diagnosed Young with bipolar disorder and he said he kept hearing voices telling him to do bad things.
Battling Against Doubts
"When I was first diagnosed, I didn't want to believe it because I felt my life was too perfect to have bipolar. Football players don't take medicine. I'm macho. Put me back on the field. But, no, that's really not what I needed," Young said, Freep reported.
Osaka is one of the most highly-paid female athletes in the world and is ranked no. 2 in the world. But her status did not enable her to fend off mental health issues or have other people understand her struggles.
Initially, many doubted the female tennis player's announcement of mental health issues, with some criticizing her allegedly using it as an excuse to get out of something she did not like. However, her social media post after her withdrawal from the French Open drew massive support from the public and organizations.
"I never wanted to be a distraction and 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," Osaka posted on Twitter.