Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka generated enormous attention when she withdrew from the French Open earlier this month. Osaka was penalized $15,000 by the organizers and threatened with expulsion for refusing the mandatory media assignments required by the tournament’s rules. (Osaka has announced that she’ll skip the Wimbledon, too, for personal reasons.)
Osaka said she experiences “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to the media and revealed that she has “suffered long bouts of depression.” She framed her decision as a mental health issue, declaring that answering questions after a loss can create self-doubt.
Osaka’s withdrawal has brought to the fore the fact that celebrities—just like regular people—struggle with mental wellness at work. No one is immune.
Osaka must be admired for talking about mental hardship openly. Her actions empower others with anxiety and depression to take care of mental health first.
It’s very human to be terrified of stuff that makes us very vulnerable. Not everybody is comfortable with public speaking, and few people feel they’re good at it. And, more to Osaka’s point, almost everyone hates talking publicly about what they did wrong after a defeat or a setback.
Idea for Impact: Bringing depression out of the shadows is a tough thing to do. Nobody has the right to invalidate or question how someone is trying to cope, especially when they’ve been strong enough to open up about it.