French Open 2021 - Novak Djokovic praises Naomi Osaka for mental health stand, hits out at Grand Slams
The 2021 Australian Open champion has supported his fellow tennis player’s decision to take time away from the court and not talk to media. He also had some interesting thoughts about the role the media plays in the current era given the reach that social media can provide to the game’s biggest athletes.
'I hope she recovers' - Djokovic 'respects Osaka fully'
World number one Novak Djokovic has praised Naomi Osaka for her mental health stance, and has criticised the Grand Slams, saying they are just “protecting themselves.”
Osaka initially arrived in Paris for the French Open and said that she would not be attending post-match press conferences as they were damaging her mental health.
However there was a strong push back from the organisers of the four Grand Slams, who released a joint statement reminding Osaka of her responsibilities and threatening her with expulsion.
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“I support her,” he said. “I think she was very brave to do that. I’m really sorry that she is going through painful times and suffering mentally.
“This was, I must say, a very bold decision from her side. If she needs to take time and reflect and just recharge that’s what she needed to do, and I respect it fully. I hope that she’ll come back stronger.”
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“The Grand Slams are protecting themselves and their own business,” said Djokovic.
“Of course they are going to follow the rules and they are going to make sure that you are complying. Otherwise you’ll be paying fines and getting sanctioned. It’s not surprising to me that was their reaction.”
The world number one also reminded them that times have changed and the world’s biggest stars now have their own platform to keep their supporters informed.
“It used to be the (traditional media) was the only way we can reach out to our fans, right, in the last five years or maybe 10 years, it’s not the case anymore,” he said.
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“We have our own platforms, our own social media accounts through which we are able to communicate directly with fans.
“Naomi, she’s very young and she grew up with obviously with social media and ability to speak out through her channels.”