After pulling out of several tournaments citing her battle with depression and anxiety, tennis star Naomi Osaka said she wants to compete at the Tokyo Olympics and plans to participate in press conferences.
Osaka recently told Japan’s national broadcaster NHK that she was gearing up to play on her home turf at the 2021 Olympics. In the message published by the broadcaster, Osaka said she would take part in news conferences while giving consideration to her mental health.
“I am preparing myself little by little so I can be at the top of my game for the Olympics,” she wrote, per AFP.
“Since getting the attention of the world, I’ve always had bouts of anxiety. This is especially the case in the lead up to big competitions.”
The world No. 2 withdrew from the French Open after controversy erupted following her announcement to not attend press conferences after matches. The 23-year-old then pulled out of Wimbledon as well. Osaka said post-match media availabilities were detrimental to her mental health before later announcing on social media that she needed to step away from the game to focus on her battle with depression and anxiety.
Stuart Duguid, Osaka’s agent, said his client had withdrawn from the Berlin WTA 500, a tournament that is seen as a tune-up for Wimbledon, to spend time with friends and family. But he assured Osaka was “excited to play in front of her home fans” at the Tokyo Olympics.
Osaka, who was fined $15,000 and threatened with disqualification from Roland Garros for not honoring her media commitment, ignited a debate about mental health. French Open officials claimed they had treated Osaka with “care and respect” after they were accused of being too harsh.