Golfer Michelle Wie West praises 'incredibly brave' Naomi Osaka

2014 US Women's Open Wie West said there was a need for more conversations regarding the mental wellbeing of athletes

American golfer Michelle Wie West has praised tennis player Naomi Osaka's decision to withdraw from the French Open over her boycotting post-match media duties as "incredibly brave" and said looking after mental health was a "priority" for athletes.

World No 2 Osaka announced her decision to pull out of the Grand Slam on Monday, a day after she was fined $15,000 for not attending a post-match media conference and threatened with expulsion after her first-round win.

The Japanese, 23, had made clear her intentions on social media to renege on media duties to protect her mental well-being, and on Monday said she had suffered from depression and social anxiety.

"I thought what Naomi did this past week was incredibly brave," Wie West said on Tuesday. "I also understand that part of being an athlete is speaking to the media because that's how the tournaments get done, [it] is through the media coverage.

"Definitely as a player, it gets tough, especially after having a bad round. It's tough, especially when you're not doing well, or there's a lot more to life than your game."

Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam winner, has received support from her country Japan, leading sporting figures and tennis fans since she announced her decision.

On Wednesday Nike and other major sponsors commended Osaka for sharing her experience.

"Our thoughts are with Naomi. We support her and recognise her courage in sharing her own mental health experience," Nike said.

Swiss luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer said that it supports its brand ambassadors "in triumph but also during challenging periods".

"Naomi is going through difficult times and we truly hope to see her back soon. She is a great champion and we are convinced that she will come out of this period stronger, be it professionally or personally," the company said in a statement.

The four Grand Slam tournaments issued a joint statement supporting Osaka and promised to make things better for players.

Wie West, who won the 2014 US Women's Open, said there was a need for more conversations regarding the mental wellbeing of athletes.

"It is sometimes crippling at times, but I'm really proud of athletes taking charge of their mental health and making it a priority," she added.

Published: June 2, 2021 01:31 PM

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