sports

Sympathy for Osaka in Japan over French Open withdrawal

54 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2021 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

54 Comments
Login to comment

Response from the tennis world to Osaka’s recent actions:

“She tried to sidestep or lessen a problem for herself and instead she just made it much bigger than it was in the first place.” --Martina Navratilova, winner of 18 Grand Slam women’s singles titles

“As sports people, we need to be ready to accept the questions and try to produce an answer, no?” -- Rafael Nadal, winner of 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles

“In my opinion, press is kind of part of the job. We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players.” -- Ashleigh Barty, current women’s No. 1

“I have always believed that as professional athletes we have a responsibility to make ourselves available to the media.” -- Billie Jean King, winner of 12 Grand Slam women’s singles titles

“I’m thick. Other people are thin. Everyone is different, and everyone handles things differently.” -- Serena Williams, winner of 23 Grand Slam women’s singles titles

“You cannot allow a player to have an unfair advantage by not doing post-match press. It’s time consuming, so if one player is not doing that and others are, that is not equal.” -- Rennae Stubbs, former No. 1 doubles player, current ESPN analyst

15 ( +24 / -9 )

Apologies from japanese medias bringing to her the nationality question all the time ?

7 ( +12 / -5 )

USA Today has published an excellent analysis of how Osaka’s recent losses on clay, and her family members’ questions about those loses, led to her mental health deterioration. Excerpt below.

*Since then (April 1 Miami Open quarterfinal loss), though, Osaka has struggled, losing her second match in Madrid (clay) and in the first round of the Italian Open (clay). In a since-deleted post on Reddit, Osaka’s sister Mari (the New York Times verified her authenticity) described a situation in which even members of her family had asked about why she wasn’t winning on clay and that being asked about it in news conferences would only contribute to eroding her confidence. *

*“I think that everyone’s remarks and opinions have gotten to her head and she herself believed that she was bad on clay,” Mari Osaka wrote in the post. “This isn’t true and she knows that in order to do well and have a shot at winning Roland Garros she will have to believe that she can.”*

*That is a fair and understandable stance to take. But in Osaka’s original statement, she did not merely ask for understanding of the difficulties she was going through. Instead, she chose a wider indictment of the notion that athletes should answer questions about their performance, win or lose and that those who ask are not looking out for the mental health of athletes. *

*That was a mistake, that was wrong and there didn't seem to be any sympathy for that idea, even among her fellow players out on tour. *

-- “Opinion: Naomi Osaka's shocking French Open withdrawal offers lessons for all involved,” Dan Wolken, 31 May 2021

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Having listened to inane sports interviews throughout the decades, I'm glad she stood up to them. It would be too good to be true if this were a trend.

-5 ( +16 / -21 )

Sympathy in Japan? I'm in Japan.... I have very little sympathy for her. But a little for the competition organizers, her sponsors and fans.

2 ( +22 / -20 )

All that money, travelling the world, staying in 5 star hotels? Tough life. Give it all up and get a job at Dennys. Or, here's an idea, do the press events and just sit there and say 'no comment'.

11 ( +25 / -14 )

Some people are true professionals and take the rough with the smooth in ALL jobs. Others only want to good parts and complain and throw fits when things go badly or they have obligations that they don't want to do but are necessary.

This is a clear case of her being upset about the fine and then taking her ball home. Shows the girls immaturity.

7 ( +18 / -11 )

The Japanese are mentally strong. Take a look at wrestler Taka no Hana ‘s interviews. Nothing fazes him. You’d have to be desensitized and Osaka’s not the cold blooded type.

-11 ( +6 / -17 )

It's fascinating the connection the Japanese feel for an athlete that has practically never lived in their country and barely speaks the language or really understands the culture. Osaka is breaking all traditional boundaries of nationality.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

I think we will see much more of this in the future.

These days everybody gets a participation trophy, so nobody is used to losing, and when they inevitably do later in life, they don't know how to deal with it. The result is a nervous breakdown and hissy fit.

4 ( +13 / -9 )

She can afford to quit. Most of us commoners have to work even though we suffer from depression, cancer etc. We can't afford not to. She is a great tennis player but does not live in reality. She really needs to grow up and even learn to perhaps keep her opinions to herself. Play tennis and stay out of politics and life. She has a privaledged life, and good on her, but she must remember most people do not. BTW she dropped out because she was about to have head handed to her on a platter again. She really is terrible at clay tennis.

-1 ( +14 / -15 )

Osaka has faced the worst prejudice in Japan as a child and since becoming a tennis star due to her being a “haafu,” or half a Japanese person. She was declared to be “too sunburned” by two Japanese comedians who said she “needed some bleach.”

The Japanese noodle company Nissin acknowledged “whitewashing” Osaka in an ad that was later taken down.

1 ( +12 / -11 )

It's fascinating the connection the Japanese feel for an athlete that has practically never lived in their country and barely speaks the language or really understands the culture. Osaka is breaking all traditional boundaries of nationality.

I suspect winning 4 Majors probably has something to do with it!

Good luck to her. I'd put money on her skipping the planned Olympics, that would be pressure she likely couldnt cope with at this point. Japanese media interest will be crushing.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

This whole thing reminds of that one of the great rugby greats, John Kirwan, former Japan coach, has suffered from depression.

He wrote a book about it, “All Blacks Don't Cry: A Story of Hope”. Looks like it would be a good read for those interested in sports people with depression.

You wouldn’t have known it, just watching him tear through a rugby team.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

tamanegiToday  04:51 pm JST

Osaka has faced the worst prejudice in Japan as a child and since becoming a tennis star due to her being a “haafu,” or half a Japanese person. She was declared to be “too sunburned” by two Japanese comedians who said she “needed some bleach.”

Haven't we all but hey I gotta get to work you know?

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

Osaka has faced the worst prejudice in Japan as a child 

This really begs for a source. She left Japan very young (hence she cannot speak Japanese). No way she remembers any prejudice against her, even if there were any.

5 ( +14 / -9 )

Good luck to her. I'd put money on her skipping the planned Olympics

I'd put money on it that she will be in the Olympics.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

she seems to have a lot she wants to say, I cannot understand why she doesn’t like the publicity interviews give her.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

She is not the only one.

Klopp the manager at Liverpool frequently gets mad or angry during an interview when a stupid question is asked.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

The crap she is getting from the media and others for politely saying she wasn’t going to do a pointless, trivial press conference is horrible.

-6 ( +9 / -15 )

Japanese don't quit like this though do they, let's face it?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

The full scope of the situation is yet still unknown, but that doesn't stop the attacks.

Like she's got it easy, she's rich, if she doesn't like it leave - to the more "astute" remarks like "take the good with the bad" and "grow up".

Obviously commentators slagging her no little about mental health, depression, anxiety etc. and believe money or a backbone can just wave goodbye to the demons.

Mental health problems incl suicide have taken their toll on many world class athletes. Pro-sports is starting to take note of this and some competitions are right behind the players 100% with advanced support networks, counselling, therapies etc in place.

For example, Australian Football has in place a "AFL Industry - Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy - Protecting the Health and the future of our People and our Game"

What strategies does World Tennis have in place? What alternatives could the French Open have taken in Naomi's case? Do sponsored rights esp mass media, trump the health of players?

A lot to know - but playing the Corporate "my way or the by-way" Card doesn't reflect 2021 medical thinking.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Osaka has faced the worst prejudice in Japan as a child and since becoming a tennis star due to her being a “haafu,” or half a Japanese person. She was declared to be “too sunburned” by two Japanese comedians who said she “needed some bleach.”

She left when she was very young. I doubt she remembers any prejudice except for possibly the one that should really hurt - rejection of her and her parents by her maternal grandparents. Funny how her grandfather is now so proud of her once the money started rolling in. Does she have no pride at all, the way her parents were treated? You'd expect this from racists you don't know, but your own flesh and blood?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Pukey2: Have you suffered? Or are you a guilt ridden SJW? If the later give all you have to someone and live the dream!!

make a difference at you own, and not the tax payer, expense!! and when you have keep it to yourself because a true warrior will push their experience on others.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

make a difference at you own, and not the tax payer, expense!! and when you have keep it to yourself because a true warrior will NOT

push their experience on others.

0( +0 / -0 )

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Just leave her alone.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

I hope one day she can find happiness. She really has seemed unhappy the last few years.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

In the history of sports interviews there has only ever been one that was anything other than boring predicable cliches and platitudes. I’ll leave to guess which one it was.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's strange to see people still saying that the press has been tough on her or reporters treated her badly.

Osaka's Tweet announcing her withdrawal from the tournament said the press has always been kind to her and she apologized for saying otherwise.

Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt), I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media.

I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can.

So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences.

The press are not the catalyst of this controversy. Uninformed posters are spreading gasoline of ignorance on the fire of this story.

Osaka is not well educated and by not attending university she lost the opportunity to grow during those important years of personal and social development. She's been in a cocoon along with her poorly educated advisors. She has the maturity of a 12-year old and needs to step away and get some adult guidance and support.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Osaka has faced the worst prejudice in Japan as a child and since becoming a tennis star due to her being a “haafu,” or half a Japanese person.

If true it's strange she never uses her platform as millionaire celebrity to raise awareness of this issue. Opting instead to follow the trendy BLM crowd and staying deaftly silent on this issue.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

We are all being played for fools.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

In the end, any player not able to handle any aspect of today's professional tennis Circuit should stick to the amateur Circuit. Do not put yourself through anguish of any type if your not up to it.

I hope she gets better and finds she can return, but if not then she has had great achievements in her chosen sport and her name will be remembered.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Please take care.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

All people in all walks of life deal with stress and life's troubles in a different way so if she has some mental issues then all we can do is hope she gets help and gets better soon. I'm not a big fan of hers but I don't dislike her either, I think she is a very good tennis player. Biggest thing affecting her is the Japanese citizenship and all the pressure that brings, especially being weak minded and thin skinned as it appears she is. Add to that she grew up in the US and speaks very little Japanese, kind of a recipe for disaster with that Japanese passport in hand, although not sure Haiti would have been the better option either. Hope she gets back to normal soon.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

jim4790:

Pukey2: Have you suffered? Or are you a guilt ridden SJW? If the later give all you have to someone and live the dream!!

make a difference at you own, and not the tax payer, expense!! and when you have keep it to yourself because a true warrior will push their experience on others.

I'd like to respond to you, or agree or disagree, but I just don't know what the heck you're trying to say.

Look, at the end of the day, I'm tired of listening to millionaires' problems. She has the choice to walk away and find a career that's less stressful. Most other people don't have that choice and have to struggle to put bread on the table. Quitting the French was the best thing she did for your mental health.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Sympathy for Osaka in Japan over French Open withdrawal

Not from me she doesn't.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Best of luck for you Lady, I hope we see you back again on the court soon. remember the song "Everybody needs sometimes alone" so lets respect that.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

she seems to have a lot she wants to say

Yes, but she prefers the social media platform where she doesn’t have to answer to anybody.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

All that hate I am reading shown why so many are mentally ill or depressed.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

The Japanese are mentally strong. Take a look at wrestler Taka no Hana ‘s interviews. Nothing fazes him. You’d have to be desensitized and Osaka’s not the cold blooded type.

What are you talking about? As long as a Japanese athlete excels and wins every single time, wins gold, trophies, the money, and the endorsements will be fruitful and endless, screw up, win 3rd and below constantly, embarrass the nation and you will be a distant dwarfed memory, just like that!

Do you remember: *Midori Ito**?*

Look what happened to her in the 1992 Winter Olympics

During a practice session, Surya Bonaly of France performed a back flip near her. Ito was nearly hit on the head and was obviously shaken. Subsequently, her practice with her triple Axel jumps turned out poorly, which may have led her to take it out of the original program. Ito's free skating began with a failed triple Axel but she attempted it again at the end of her program and landed it successfully, becoming the first woman to land one in the Olympics. She won the silver medal, and apologized to her country for not winning the gold. Ito turned professional afterwards, bringing the triple Axel for the first time to the professional ranks, and performed with ice shows in Japan. She briefly returned to competitive skating in the 1995–96 season, but without her former success.

That was it, stress, anxiety, anger, accident, fault of her own, doesn't matter in the end, if you are big and the best athlete in Japan, even will all the success, you are of a thing hairline between being a superstar and being irrelevant. Now I am not saying that will happen to Osaka, but please don't make it seem that the Japanese are people that are desensitized to all of this. Her management team is watching very closely and it will depend if she's worth the hassle or not and in Japan, her westernized stern attitude is not helping her win over people.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

$37.4 million buy an tennis professional the advice one wants to hear, but not the advice that wins competitions.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

One might recall the formidable tennis champion Kimiko Date, who retired at age 25. Date, cited stress due to the intense pressure placed upon her which diminished her enjoyment of the game.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

She loves America! She made that clear a million times over!

I bet she hasn't given up her US passport either. Others have been forced into giving up their second citizenship, not merely renouncing it in public. America welcomed her, gave her a passport without telling her to give up her Japanese passport. I realize the American tennis authorities may not have been so supportive at the beginning, but maybe she didn't show enough promise when she was young. There are loads of other talented kids and everyone matures at a different pace. But at the end, I guess the Japanese money was just too tempting. Ironically, I think had she chosen to be with America, she would have got more support for any mental issues. Japan sure doesn't excel in mental care.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Apparently, most people around the world seem sympathetic to Naomi.

See various comments in the CNN YouTube channel, for instance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQN31siVhLI

0 ( +4 / -4 )

She is a champion

She is human.

Ultimately, she is a winner.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I just read this I thought it gave a good perspective.

"Osaka said she was finding press conferences tough and needed a break from them. She agreed to pay fines and it was left there. Instead, as the tournament finally began and interest in the story waned, the grand slam tournaments escalated the situation by warning that by repeatedly skipping press conferences she could be defaulted or even risk suspension from future grand slam tournaments. By applying such unnecessary pressure, they forced Osaka to choose between defiance and the possibility of unprecedented punishments or the deep discomfort of facing the media. Withdrawing was the option to minimise her stress. With her departure, she explained that she suffers from depression and is struck by anxiety before press encounters."

I remember this same thing happening to Kimiko Date at about the same age.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The new French Open theme song...

"ALL we got is LOVE"

Naomi: A racket is NOT a sling nor a tennis ball a stone, but YOU GO MY DAVID! Slay that giant! We ALL would like to see Corporate on its greed distorted face...

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Japanese fans are the most craziest in the world. They don't attack like those saesaengs in Korea but they support so much in such a way that it triggers anti-fans.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

By the amount of negativity surrounding this, anyone would think people are more interested in seeing her after game performance in the press gallery than her on court performance!!!??? Absolutely ludicrous. She is a tennis player.

I imagine all the reporters are worried they'll be out of a job and free travel around the world...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Interesting that the "mental health problems" only came out when the French organizers called her bluff. Everyone else manages to answer the stupid questions. Sorry Naomi, you joined the media circus with your embrace of BLM. Had you just played tennis, you would get more sympathy. Its the hypocrisy that irks me, calling out racism in the US but not that which forced your family to the US. You want the media attention to suit you but not when it suits them.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I'm truly sorry that all the entitled people were cheated out the entitlement of watching her play and speak.

I think you should disparage her on the internet for it. That will make things better.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

So now Grand Slam Inc has come forward with an "official response" - basically acknowledging their knee jerk reaction to the whole affair was short in many ways.

My above post - thumbed down a lot ha, ha - stated exactly this - What's the French open's view on mental health?

Now we have it -

"On behalf of the Grand Slams, we wish to offer Naomi Osaka our support and assistance in any way possible as she takes time away from the court. She is an exceptional athlete and we look forward to her return as soon as she deems appropriate...Mental health is a very challenging issue, which deserves our utmost attention. It is both complex and personal, as what affects one individual does not necessarily affect another. We commend Naomi for sharing in her own words the pressures and anxieties she is feeling and we empathize with the unique pressures tennis players may face.”

Thank you.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So now Grand Slam Inc has come forward with an "official response" - basically acknowledging their knee jerk reaction to the whole affair was short in many ways.

Well that definitely makes all the entitled people here look pretty pathetic. Even the Grand Slam Inc. supports her. In that context, you guys look kind of useless.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It's really sad how unsympathetic people are. She says "I need a break from this" and tries to start a conversation and so many commenters are responding "If I have to suffer, so should you". This is a perfect opportunity to go the other way and say "It would be great if everyone took all of these things seriously and we could ALL end up in a better place" but so many people are stuck in crab mentality.

I feel sorry for the world that so many people have so little compassion to want better things for other people.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites