Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Gael Monfils: We Need Naomi 100% These Obnoxious Frogs, Not So Much...,

espn  |  The leaders of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments reacted Tuesday to Naomi Osaka's stunning withdrawal from the French Open by promising to address players' concerns about mental health.

The pledge came in a statement signed by the same four administrators who threatened the possibility of disqualification or suspension for Osaka on Sunday if she continued to skip news conferences.

French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton, All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt, U.S. Tennis Association president Mike McNulty and Tennis Australia president Jayne Hrdlicka pledged to work with players, the tours and media "to improve the player experience at our tournaments" while making sure the athletes all are on a "fair playing field, regardless of ranking or status."

In a separate statement issued Tuesday to the AP via email, International Tennis Federation official Heather Bowler said the sport will "review what needs to evolve" after Osaka "shone a light on mental health issues."

"It's in all our interests to ensure that we continue to provide a respectful and qualitative environment that enables all stakeholders to do their job to their best ability, without impacting their health, and for the good of the sport," Bowler wrote.

Various players, including Serena Williams, offered support for Osaka and praised her for being forthcoming in her statement on social media Monday.

"It's hard. Nobody really knows what anyone is going through, no matter how much they choose to show on the outside. I had no idea about her. But I respect her openness," 20-year-old American Ann Li said after winning her first-round match Tuesday at Roland Garros. "Our generation is becoming more open and open, which can be a good thing and also a bad thing sometimes. I hope she's doing OK."

On Tuesday, when asked how she handled media attention and duties during her career, Venus Williams said each person is different.

"For me, personally, how I deal with it was that I know every single person asking me a question can't play as well as I can and never will, so no matter what you say or what you write, you'll never light a candle to me," Williams said. "So that's how I deal with it. But each person deals with it differently."

Gael Monfils, 34, who also won Tuesday in Paris, said he could relate to Osaka's concerns to an extent.

"It's a very tough situation for her. I feel for her, because I have been struggling quite a lot as well," said Monfils, of France. "What she's dealing is even tough for me to even judge, because I think she has massive pressure from many things. I think she's quite young. She's handling it quite well. Sometime we want maybe too much from her ... so sometime, for sure, she is going to do some mistake."

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