"She's the type of person we need." - McEnroe concerned about effect of increased scrutiny on Osaka's game
Former World No. 1 John McEnroe says he is worried about Naomi Osaka as he thinks the Japanese superstar is very important for the game and her decision to boycott media only brought more attention to her.
Just before the start of the 2021 French Open, Osaka announced she would not be conducting post-match press conferences at the tournament. The four-time Grand Slam champion was harshly criticized for her decision and she decided to pull out of the tournament following her first round victory.
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"I worry about Naomi because she did something (boycotted the media) that at the time she thought was right and an incredible thing," McEnroe told The New York Daily News. "But the problem is that there’s more attention on her – Now how is she doing today? How’s the next one? Is she going to Wimbledon?
"So what started out as something that was done for reasons she felt good about, now she’s probably not quite as sure about. And it’s too bad. Because she’s the type of person we need. Big time. She won four Grand Slams already. And everyone has their way of dealing with (pressure). Some are healthier than others."
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After withdrawing from the French Open last year, Osaka opened up about her battle with depression and anxiety. Now, the 24-year old is known as one of the biggest advocates for athletes' mental health. McEnroe, a former seven-time Grand Slam champion, is happy to see mental health being given more attention in 2022.
"I find it healthy in a lot of ways that (mental health) is being talked about more openly," he added. "But this isn’t something that just started. This started way before me. Obviously with more money in sports, it’s become more of a business. Parents see dollar signs in their eyes. It’s gotten way worse in that regard."