Mental-health advocate Naomi Osaka is back at the French Open: ‘For the most part, I think I’m OK.’

“Mostly, I think I’m fine.”

This is popular tennis star Naomi Osaka, who closed a thoughtful 18-minute press conference at Roland Garros on Friday, the site of her abrupt retirement a year earlier when she put her mental health ahead of world expectations.

The tournament, which is part of the Grand Slam of professional tennis, begins on Sunday.

The Frenchwoman, who grew up in the United States last year, said she would avoid talking to the press, earning a $ 15,000 fine. He then withdrew before the second round, emphasizing that “it’s okay not to feel good” and that it’s even more important to admit it.

Osaka also left Wimbledon and took another break from the highest levels of elite tennis after an early exit at the 202nd U.S. Open. But Osaka, the owner of four Grand Slam titles, returned on the big stages in January at the Australian Open. There he lost in the third round to Amanda Anisimova, a 20-year-old American who turns out to be Osaka’s first rival in Paris.

Osaka’s ranking has dropped to number 38, mainly due to lack of action. However, she is the highest paid female athlete in the world, according to a list published by Forbes, dated January. It accumulated $ 57.3 million in awards and endorsements last year.

“I’m not going to lie. The first time I came here, I was very worried,” she told reporters in Paris on Friday. “I was a little worried if there were people who, of course, I didn’t like the way I handled the situation, but I was worried that there would be people I offended in some way, and I would just have dinner. ‘they.”

He said the atmosphere generally feels favorable.

“I think everyone has been very positive, for the most part. I’m not so sure. I was also very worried about this press conference, because I knew I would get a lot of questions about it,” he added.

Osaka also admitted that she felt different talking to the media now, and that she felt “more fun” and more relaxed than last year.

“I feel like what has changed, I try to figure out the crowd,” he said. “I feel like I’m a comedian and I’m trying to figure out what’s right and what’s wrong.”

Surely the pressure never goes down. In March, Osaka cried after being questioned in Indian Wells.

Prior to the 2021 French Open, Osaka said appearances in the media could raise doubts about himself that would harm his game and harm his overall health. Osaka has shared on Instagram that he has suffered long bouts of depression since his victory at the U.S. Open in 2018. He also explained that he has social anxiety and often wears headphones during tournaments.

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In addition to last year’s French fine, Osaka was also threatened by the four Grand Slam tournaments with possible additional punishments, including disqualification or suspension. But it also received waves of support following the decision of the French Open, as well as some criticism from sports analysts who emphasized that press duties are part of the responsibility of spectators and sponsors.

In particular, their actions have helped make mental health care more common among athletes and society at large.

Simone Biles, perhaps the world’s greatest gymnast, retired from various events at the Tokyo Olympics in July. He was repeatedly disoriented during the complex twists and turns he could normally pull off without any problems.

“Physical health,” he wrote on Instagram at the time, “is mental health.”

The buzz around the pressure on young and very young athletes is unlikely to go away any time soon. Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz remains a key figure in tennis. In fact, much of the sport has labeled him the future champion. For now, he is looking to take advantage of his recent success for a first-round appearance in Paris.

Associated Press contributed.

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