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Is it okay to not be okay?

Is it right for athletes to neglect the press due to personal reasons? Is it true that the 23 year old Osaka was fined $15,000 for prioritizing her mental health over the press conference? Does the world need to upgrade itself on grounds of giving its players a life of their own? Read on to see what Perspectoverse’s own Suhasini Mitra has to say about Osaka shattering the perfect reputation of Tennis.


There is no doubt that tennis is a sport for the privileged and always has been. But the question that is worth asking is whether the adrenaline is for fight or flight. Naomi Osaka, the 23 year old women’s #1 seeded player recently unfolded the truth behind the lush green tennis courts. She said in her interview with Times that “It's okay to not be okay”. However, she did not just stop there. Her article was elaborate and full of inside details of how the grand-slams treat their players. Osaka has even provided the tennis hierarchies with a list of suggestions that would help preserve the mental health of the players.

The whole affair started when Osaka requested Roland Garos, one of the 4 prestigious grand slams and popularly known as the French Open, to let her skip the press conference for her to exercise self care and preserve her mental health after the first win in the tournament. However, the replies to her requests were not what she had imagined. She was fined $15,000 and was threatened by all four grand slams with the possibility of suspension or disqualification. This is where the problem first started. Later, Osaka was forced to reveal that she was going through severe mental issues including acute anxiety and bouts of depression.

The players are also humans and go through a lot of physical work each day. They should also be given the chance to heal when they need it. The press often asks misleading questions to which the answers again blow up huge controversies.

Living in the 21st century, it’s known to all that mental health is just as important as physical health, if not more. She has pleaded the audiences and the tennis hierarchies to sympathise with the players; but must it take so much toil to make such an essential point? Why shall anyone have to specifically state that being mentally healthy is required?

Celebrities like Michele Obama, Michael Phelps, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovich checked up on her to see how she felt. Serena Williams in a recent interview said that she wanted to give Osaka a tight hug because she understands how it feels to be pressured and put in a position like Osaka’s.

After all the commotion, Roland Garros wished Osaka a speedy recovery. This was again faced by a lot of backlash as should have been the case. Due to this, Osaka had also withdrawn from Wimbledon. She took this time to spend time with her family and friends back in Japan. She came back for the summer olympics in Japan looking better than ever. She was even given the privilege of lighting the sacred cauldron.

In the prestigious history of tennis, this is undeniably a turning point. There have been many players before her who have gone through the same thing but were afraid of getting tossed away in the game industry. What Osaka did has changed the lives of all aspiring tennis players.

We often make the mistake of not counting celebrities as humans. We are so habituated to see them on your big television screens that we sometimes ignore the fact that they are also made up of flesh and blood like any of us and that they too can get sick, they too can feel burdened, they can also be worn out from the pressure of being in the limelight.

It’s time we begin to examine the lenses through which we view the world, even if it's just through our TV. No matter the privilege, respect and fame any individual holds, they are still human. Sticks and stones don’t always break bones, and words don’t always not hurt.

Written by Suhasini Mitra

Illustrated by Anannya Pincha


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