• Tosin "The Jiggy Prof"

Naomi Osaka & Her Mental Health

Naomi Osaka took the world by surprise when she defeated Serena Williams in one the finals. The excitement wasn’t about Williams’s defeat neither was it Osaka’s win. Its was actually about the new kid on the block went from zero to 100 in no time. She has gone ahead to gather three to four additional final wins. She is just 23 and as at 2020, she is the highest paid female athlete in the world.

She made the news again some days ago. She pulled out of the French open – an ongoing tournament. An unprecedented move for both player and tennis stakeholders. After her first game (I think), she refused post-match interview. She cited the nature of the questions for her decision to boycott the press. Furious tournament organizer, a coalition of organizers discussed a potential cross board ban in addition to a $15k fine for the current boycott for "breaching contractual agreement" they say. Read more here

Naomi agreed to pay up and in addition gave further clarification on the actual reason for her boycott, this time citing mental health. As expected, she got support from sponsor and colleagues. But why did it take a first Naomi action, the organizers response and a second statement as counter action by Naomi to gather support for her to proof her mental health/wellbeing? Well……

Why is this important?

Three variables are key here. Communication, Contract and Mental Health.

There is a place for communication. There is also a place for the right type of communication. Perhaps, if Naomi had given the clarity of the second statement, to the first, the organizers would have responded differently, instead of the imposed threat of collective ban and $15k fine. In retrospect, it puts the organizers in a bad light like they don’t care about players wellbeing.

After Naomi gave her first statement, the organizer emphasized that post match press was contractual. It would be strange, that Naomi's representatives weren’t clear, that this was a work commitment, almost nonnegotiable. Perhaps if Naomi had mental health issues, they would have informed the tournament organizers ahead of time, especially if it had to do with post match event, which according to the stakeholder -is very key to the event. It is a rare occurrence to sign a contract and cited mental health for a no-show. Does mental health issue happen overnight? (I stand to be corrected). This should have been considered before penning the contractual terms at least. The business world requires contract respecters, with a commitment to meet expected responsibilities. Period.

Mental Health! Millionaire Naomi! Mental Health!!! Why? How? Obviously, Mental health is no respecter of persons. Rich or poor, young or old. Pay attention to your mental wellbeing because, after-all is said and done, it is your ticket to the future you seek. That uncontrollable anxiety, that you often experience could be an key indicator. Talk to someone.

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