Naomi Osaka Thanks Her Supporters, Including Meghan Markle and Michelle Obama, After French Open Withdrawal

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Naomi Osaka of Japan during her match against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania in the first round of the Women's Singles competition on Court Philippe-Chatrier at the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on May 30th 2021 in Paris, France.Getty Images

In the letter, Naomi Osaka thanked her family and several celebrities for their support after she made the decision to preserve her mental health. Those she thanked included Meghan Markle, Steph Curry and Michael Phelps.

Naomi Osaka penned an open letter about her decision to withdraw from the French Open in May. In it, she thanked a host of celebrities for supporting her after she made the decision to preserve her mental health. Included in the list were: Michelle Obama, Steph Curry, Michael Phelps and Meghan Markle, among others.

"Michael Phelps told me that by speaking up I may have saved a life. If that's true, then it was all worth it,” Osaka, 23, said in an essay published in TIME.

Osaka had previously appeared on Markle’s podcast, Archewell Audio, in December 2020, and Markle, who recently gave birth to her daughter, is known to be a lover of tennis and close friends with Serena Williams. 

Markle and Prince Harry are known to be advocates of mental health, and in a new Apple+ series produced by Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry, he reveals that it was his wife who encouraged him to get mental health help.

In the series, Prince Harry is seen also participating in a form of trauma therapy known as EMDR.

"You've sometimes got to go back and to deal with really uncomfortable situations and to be able to process it in order to be able to heal,” Prince Harry said. “For me, therapy has equipped me to be able to take on anything. That's why I'm here now. That's why my wife is here now.”

In May, ahead of the French Open, Osaka said she would not being doing press interviews to protect her mental health and would be willing to pay the $15,000 fine for athletes that do not participate. But, she later announced that she would be withdrawing from the tournament all together.

"In any other line of work, you would be forgiven for taking a personal day here and there, so long as it's not habitual,” Osaka wrote in her TIME essay. “You wouldn't have to divulge your most personal symptoms to your employer; there would likely be HR measures protecting at least some level of privacy.”

"In my case, I felt under a great amount of pressure to disclose my symptoms — frankly because the press and the tournament did not believe me," Osaka added. ”I do not wish that on anyone and hope that we can enact measures to protect athletes, especially the fragile ones. I also do not want to have to engage in a scrutiny of my personal medical history ever again. So I ask the press for some level of privacy and empathy next time we meet."

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