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Osaka receives support following the announcement of a sports break

September 3, 2021; Flushing, NY, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan gestures after missing a shot against Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada (not pictured) on day five of the 2021 US Open tennis tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK, Sept. 4 (Reuters) – Retired athletes on Saturday expressed their support for four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka after she announced she would be taking a tennis break after losing her excitement for the competition .

The world number three suffered a staggering defeat in the third round of the US Open on Friday before tearfully telling reporters that she was planning an indefinite break from the sport. Continue reading

“I’ve been feeling like to myself lately, if I win, I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief,” said Osaka, months after she publicly announced she had suffered from depression.

Retired American professional tennis player James Blake welcomed her decision.

“Please do what is best for you @naomiosaka,” he wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “We want to see your exceptional tennis again, but more importantly, we want to see you happy.”

The six-time Grand Slam winner Boris Becker replied to Blake in a retweet: “That’s right.”

The 23-year-old has started a new conversation about mental health in professional sport after breaking off the French Open amid a public dispute over mandatory Grand Slam press conferences, saying they were putting too much strain on her mental wellbeing. Continue reading

Osaka’s influence extends far beyond the court when she brought the protest against Black Lives Matter to the international tennis platform a year ago, becoming a leading figure in advocacy for athletes.

“Good decision. Young trying to figure out how to win consistently in life and being a great celebrity athlete is tough! Trying to be a change maker too. Exponentially harder!” wrote four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson on Twitter.

“If an athlete has ever had to resign, this is it.”

Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Hugh Lawson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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