Naomi Osaka left the French Open on Monday.
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
Would the French Open Officials pay Naomi Osaka a fine if she had a physical injury rather than a psychological one?
The tennis rules allow mid-game delays due to physical injury. Osaka’s delay wasn’t even a mid-game delay, but a post-game delay until the end of the tournament when Osaka said she would like to devote a lot of time to journalists.
Her legitimate request neither bothered the spectators nor denied her opponents the chance to compete against the world’s best tennis athlete. This finding is undoubtedly the fault of officials who either failed to understand or respect, or did not want to, that mental illness is as important and real as physical illness.
Mental health impairments or concerns must be recognized as much as physical injuries. Both can cause great suffering and even death. Tournament officials must adhere to the same standards set by many large corporations and governments around the world and take mental health issues as seriously as they do physical issues.
Osaka are incredibly brave to face their mental health problems and are demanding that tournament officials set appropriate standards for players with mental health problems and illnesses.
Tournament officials punish players for poor gambling behavior; Perhaps the players’ association should punish tournament officials for bad behavior if they fail to take this important health problem seriously.
It’s a shame about the French Open and other tournament officials who take their public relations priorities more seriously than the priorities of player health. This was about money, not the values that many athletes are taught that inspire the rest of us in those rare moments when great athletes like Naomi Osaka take the stage and show us what it means to be world class.
On that occasion, Osaka demonstrated world-class courage that French Open officials and anyone who supported their actions would do well to emulate.
Francis Greenburger is President and Founder of the Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice.