Professional tennis looks raggedy as a staff, record label, and a muthaf***in’ crew right now.
This didn’t go the way they thought it would. Tennis thought they could lay down the law on Naomi Osaka, perhaps their brightest and most-watched star, and she would just take it. Sike. Double fault. Last week the four-time Grand Slam champ withdrew herself from the French Open after she refused to engage in post-game press conferences, citing her “long bouts of depression” and mental health behind the decision. Meanwhile, the sport that wasn’t smart enough to take the temperature or read the room is now roasting on a social media spit while the embers of tweets think pieces, and editorials cook them slow and low. It would be juicy and delicious if it wasn’t so damn…insensitive. As Jemele Hill put it in her article in The Atlantic, tennis has won neither the battle nor the war.
Naomi has largely been supported by fellow athletes in tennis and beyond but today a corporate entity stepped in to offer a more capitalistic brand of allyship to the ace-serving athlete. The app called Calm, which instructs the user on numerous meditation and relaxing techniques, has announced that they will pay Naomi’s $15,000 fine and pledged to match that fine and future financial punishments as donations to Laureus Sport.
“Mental health is health,” the company shared in a statement on Twitter. “To support Naomi Osaka’s decision to prioritize her mental health, Calm is donating $15,000 to @LaureusSport in France, an organization doing incredible work in the mental health space to transform the lives of young people through the power of sport.”
Following the uproar from Roland Garros, Nike, Mastercard, and a few other major sponsors spoke out in support of the 23-year-old tennis star. The sports apparel giant who inked a deal with Osaka back in 2019, shared a statement applauding her for following her decision to withdraw from the competition.
“Our thoughts are with Naomi. We support her and recognize her courage in sharing her own mental health experience,” Nike said.
In 2019, Osaka became one of the first tennis players to join Mastercard’s stacked roster of global ambassadors. The company said in a statement that her “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.” the company added.
You’d think that these business entities and “ruling bodies” that have made it their business to present a pristine public image would see the pile of s#!t that they’ve stepped in coming from a mile away. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. Sheesh. Smh.