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#pounditFriday, October 15, 2021

Sister explains root of Naomi Osaka’s media boycott

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka announced on Monday that she was withdrawing from the French Open following a controversy over her media boycott. She said in a lengthy statement that dealing with the media gives her anxiety, and she believed the situation had become a distraction for everyone. Not long after Osaka announced the decision, her sister tried to provide some more context.

Osaka’s older sister, Mari Osaka, wrote a lengthy Reddit post that she said was designed to “share Naomi’s side” because her young sister “sucks at explaining her actions most of the time.” Mari said Naomi’s anxiety is primarily the result of her struggles on clay courts and the ways in which she is constantly reminded of them.

“At every press conference she’s told she’s has a bad record on clay. When she lost in Rome r1 she was not ok mentally,” Mari wrote. “Her confidence was completely shattered and I think that everyone’s remarks and opinions have gotten to her head and she herself believed that she was bad on clay.

“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’s the first step any athlete needs to do, believe in themselves.”

Mari said Naomi’s solution to dealing with her anxiety was to “block everything out.” She said the issue Naomi is having is called a mental health problem because she is “protecting her mental health.” Mari pushed back at the notion that mental health always means someone is struggling with depression or “some sort of disorder.”

You can read the full post below:

The post has since been deleted. Mari followed up with a separate Reddit post that said she “f—ed up.”

“My words are coming across so horribly to a lot of people who think taking care of mental health is strategic,” Mari wrote. “I didn’t emphasize the fact that Naomi is dealing with a ton of s— and honestly fighting for the care for mental health in my post so now a lot of people are taking it as ‘She doesn’t want to hear criticism.’

“I’m sorry Naomi I probably made the situation worse.”

Mari’s initial post is exactly in line with the opinion we expressed on the situation. Naomi has struggled on clay courts and likely feared she would lose early in the French Open, where she has never advanced past the third round. She needs someone to help her understand that there is no shame in losing and that it is part of being a professional athlete.

Osaka’s mental health problems seem very similar to what Ronda Rousey went through when she first experienced defeat after dominating at her sport for so long.

H/T FOX Sports

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