SLEEP relaxation app Calm have backed Naomi Osaka after she was fined for snubbing French Open media duties due to mental health concerns.
Earlier this week, Osaka, 23, withdrew from Roland Garros after vowing to continue avoiding press conferences.
Calm have offered to pay Naomi Osaka’s fine after she snubbed the media over mental health concernsCredit: Getty
The Japanese star was fined £10,600 for failing to speak after her first-round win but Calm have now vowed to cover that and donate money to charity.
Calm offer guided meditations and sleep stories read by celebrities including Stephen Fry, LeBron James, Idris Elba and Kate Winslet.
And they revealed they will cover the fines of any player at Grand Slams in 2021 and will give to mental health charity Laureus.
In a post on Twitter, they vowed: “Mental health is health.
“To support Naomi Osaka’s decision to prioritise her mental health, Calm is donating $15,000 (£10,600) to @LaureusSport in France.
“[They’re] an organisation doing incredible work in the mental health space to transform the lives of young people through the power of sport.
“But this is bigger than any individual player.
“Calm will also pay the fine for players opting out of 2021 Grand Slam media appearances for mental health reasons, and we will match the fine with a $15,000 (£10,600) donation to @laureusSport.”
Serena Williams was one star to throw her support behind Naomi Osaka for her brave decisionCredit: Alamy
In recent days, tennis legends have flocked to support Osaka for her decision to snub media duties and pull out of the French Open.
Serena Williams said: “The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi.
“I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like. I’ve been in those positions.
“I think she’s doing the best she can.”
Billie Jean King added: “It’s incredibly brave that Naomi Osaka has revealed her truth about her struggle with depression.
“Right now, the important thing is that we give her the space and time she needs. We wish her well.”
Osaka had been threatened with expulsion from Roland Garros and potential suspension from the other Grand Slams such as Wimbledon if she continued her media boycott.
But in a statement posted on Twitter, she claimed she has anxiety and stress issues when speaking in front of the media.
Osaka – who may now miss Wimbledon – said: “This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago.
“I think now the best thing 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.
“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.
“More importantly I would never trivialise mental health or use the term lightly.
“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.”
Osaka won her first-round match at Roland Garros before withdrawing after being fined for refusing to speak to the mediaCredit: The Mega Agency
Osaka continued: “Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety.
“Though the tennis press has always been kind to me – and I want to apologise especially to all the cool journalists 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.
“I announced it pre-emptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.
“I wrote privately to the tournament apologising and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the slams are intense.”