Aside from Piers Morgan and the French Open officials, most everyone has been supportive of Naomi Osaka’s decision to prioritize her mental health and withdraw from the tournament.
The dustup began when Osaka released a statement explaining that she would not be participating in the French Open press conferences because of the toll they took on her mental health. In response, the French Open first fined the athlete, then threatened to disqualify her from the tournament, stating, “We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences,” per BuzzFeed.
Finally, Osaka chose to withdraw from the tournament herself, writing in a statement, “I think now the best for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.” Osaka’s statement continued, “The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.”
Now, Will Smith has weighed in with a message for Osaka.
Will Smith is on Naomi's side
It seems like everyone has something to say about Naomi Osaka’s decision to withdraw from the French Open — from Venus Williams’ already legendary “So no matter what you say, or what you write, you’ll never light a candle to me,” to Piers Morgan’s strangely angry rant in the Daily Mail. But perhaps no one has put it more succinctly or more kindly than Will Smith of all people.
On his Instagram, the actor posted a picture of a handwritten note that read simply, “Hey Naomi, you are right. They are wrong! I am with you,” with a heart accompanying his signature. Smith is set to play Venus and Serena Williams’ father in an upcoming biopic of the tennis legends, so it makes sense that he would be more invested than usual in the world of elite tennis. But the incident has also sparked a public conversation about what we ask athletes to give up in terms of mental health, and more specifically Black women athletes like Osaka and the Williams sisters.
It looks like we all know where Smith stands.
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