Naomi Osaka: “Adapting to fame and fortune can be devastating,” says great tennis player Chris Evert


The great tennis player won her first two Grand Slam tournaments at just 19 in 1974 and topped the computer rankings when they were introduced in November 1975, occupying the top spot for 260 weeks in total.
Now Evert is supporting Naomi Osaka after the world number 2’s withdrawal from Roland Garros on Monday citing his sanity.

The 18-time Grand Slam winner suggests that Osaka did not think the situation would “cause so much turmoil” when she first announced that she would not attend the press conferences because of their impact on his sanity.

Unlike other sports, tennis players are breaking through at an increasingly younger age, with many appearing on the bigger stage as their teens.

This is why the media should “have a little respect” because fame at such a young age can often be “devastating,” according to Evert.

“I think the press needs to take a stand, take it to the next level and have a little respect,” the 66-year-old told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.

Osaka turns to his team during their match against Patricia Maria Țig at Roland Garros.

“Fame and fortune at a young age, and thank goodness the women’s tennis association has resources – mental health resources, media training resources. There is help for these kids.

“But when you come from a close-knit family, from a very modest upbringing and all of a sudden you are the most famous athlete in the world and you are the biggest winner of money and trophies in the world. world, your life is changing and that can be quite devastating too. “

Improving the relationship between players and the media is in everyone’s best interest, Evert says.

“I think everyone has to talk about a solution to make it a healthy environment for the players, because we are all in the same boat to promote the sport.”

READ: Naomi Osaka fiasco is a sign we’re far from done working on mental health
Osaka serves against Patricia Maria Tig at Roland-Garros 2021.

To face

Osaka said in her statement on Monday that she would withdraw from the 2021 French Open so that “everyone can focus again on the tennis taking place in Paris”, adding that she “will take time away. du court “.

Osaka has revealed that she has “suffered from long periods of depression” since winning her first Grand Slam title in 2018.

Last week, citing mental health reasons, Osaka posted on social media that she would not attend any press conferences during Roland Garros, hoping the fines she incurred would go to a mental health charity. .

After winning the straight sets on Sunday in the first round, Osaka was fined $ 15,000 for not speaking to the media, Roland Garros said in a statement.

Osaka attends a press conference during day six of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix at Porsche-Arena on April 27, 2019 in Stuttgart, Germany.
Tuesday, the leaders of the four grand slams published a statement offering their support to Osaka – but did not apologize.

The leaders of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open have said they will offer “support and assistance” to Osaka while continuing to “improve the player experience during the season. of our tournaments “.

Dealing with these often male-dominated press conferences – something Kris Soutar, consultant for Tennis Scotland and the Judy Murray Foundation, founded by Andy Murray’s mother, calls a ‘vulture pit’ – can be intimidating for you. the players, especially the loser.

Seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams shared her secret to dealing with the press following her first-round loss to Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova at Roland Garros on Tuesday.

“I know that every person who asks me a question can’t and never will play as well as I do,” said Williams, 40.

“No matter what you say or write, you’ll never light a candle for me. So that’s how I handle it. But each person handles it differently.”

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World No.1 Novak Djokovic also expressed his support for Osaka on Tuesday.

“I support her, I think she was very brave to do it,” he said. “I am so sorry that she is going through painful and mental ordeals like what I have heard.

“It was, I have to say, a very bold move on her part. But she knows how she feels best, and if she needs to take the time, think and recharge, that’s what she feels like. she had to do, and I fully respect that. And I hope she comes back strong. “

Sheena McKenzie and Kevin Dotson contributed to this report.

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