Retired athletes on Saturday voiced their support for four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka after she said she would take a break from tennis having lost her enthusiasm for competition.
The world number three suffered a stunning defeat to Canadian Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the U.S. Open on Friday before tearfully telling reporters she planned to take an indefinite break from the sport.
The 23-year-old's decision comes months after announcing that she had suffered from depression.
Osaka on Friday said (quote): “I feel like for me recently, like, when I win I don't feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad.. I don't think that's normal."
Twelve-time Grand Slam singles champion, Billie Jean King on Saturday Tweeted: "Take all the time you need to recover, rest, and heal.... Sending you love and support."
Retired pro James Blake Tweeted: "Please do what is best for you @naomiosaka. We want to see your extraordinary tennis again, but more importantly, we want to see you happy."
Six-time Grand Slam winner Boris Becker responded to Blake's tweet? with: ”That's right.”
Four-time Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter Michael Johnson weighed-in too. Tweeting: "Good decision. Young, trying to figure out life, how to win consistently, and as a huge celebrity athlete is hard! Trying to also be a change maker too. Exponentially harder!"
Osaka started a new conversation around mental health in professional sport after she dropped out of the French Open… saying mandatory press conferences at the Grand Slam took a toll on her wellbeing.