Brands including Nike, Mastercard, Sweetgreen and Nissin Foods are voicing support for tennis star Naomi Osaka after she withdrew from the French Open to focus on her mental health.
Per the tournament’s code of conduct, media interviews are mandatory for athletes. Osaka, however, refused to speak to the press due to her mental health, and was fined $15,000 by tournament officials. She withdrew from the tournament and posted a lengthy statement about her decision on social media, saying she felt the need to step away from competition to focus on self-care.
Nike, which signed a sponsorship deal with Osaka in 2019, told CNN, "Our thoughts are with Naomi. We support her and recognise her courage in sharing her own mental health experience."
Another brand that weighed in was fast-casual restaurant chain Sweetgreen. Osaka recently became Sweetgreen’s first athlete ambassador and an investor in the company.
Our partnership with @naomiosaka is rooted in wellness in all its forms. We support her in furthering the conversation around mental health and are proud to have her part of the sweetgreen team.— sweetgreen (@sweetgreen) June 1, 2021
Mastercard, another Osaka sponsor, tweeted Tuesday that the star's decision "reminds us all how important it is to prioritize personal health and well-being. We support her and admire her courage to address important issues, both on and off the court."
As a Mastercard Ambassador, Naomi Osaka's decision reminds us all how important it is to prioritize personal health and well-being. We support her and admire her courage to address important issues, both on and off the court.— Mastercard News (@MastercardNews) June 1, 2021
And sponsor Nissin Foods also voiced support for the tennis star.
"We pray for Ms Naomi Osaka's earliest recovery, and wish her continued success," a spokesperson for Nissin Foods told CNN.
Mental health organisations are also backing Osaka’s decision to take a break from competition.
We stand with @naomiosaka after her withdrawal from the French Open.— Rethink Mental Illness (@Rethink_) June 1, 2021
It takes great courage to disclose a mental health problem, and we hope that her honesty and openness provides inspiration for others experiencing mental health issues.https://t.co/JKAm1PARvc
The BJSM wholeheartedly supports Ms Osaka, and any athlete/group/research that helps to reduce the stigma and normalise the conversation around #MentalHealth— British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) (@BJSM_BMJ) June 1, 2021
We will post key #SportsMedicine mental health resources throughout the week to show our support#ItsOkayToNotBeOkay https://t.co/CRAPrwlNDO
Osaka is also getting support from fellow athletes and celebrities, such as tennis great Serena Williams.
(This article first appeared on PRWeek.com)