In a recent interview with Shape, Chloe Kim, one of the world's top snowboarders, heaped praise on tennis ace Naomi Osaka and gymnastics icon Simone Biles for their decision to prioritize their mental well-being.
Prior to the start of this year's French Open, Naomi Osaka announced she'd be skipping mandatory press conferences during the tournament to protect her mental health. She stated that media conferences had an adverse effect on the mental state of athletes, especially after a tough loss.
The four-time Grand Slam champion went on to withdraw from the event following her first-round win and later skipped Wimbledon as well. Her decision sparked a huge debate regarding mental health in sports. A number of athletes, including Simone Biles, followed in Osaka's footsteps and withdrew from major events to protect their mental wellbeing.
Chloe Kim, a six-time X Games gold medalist, stated that athletes are under tremendous pressure to perform and it's paramount for them to slow down and take stock of their emotions.
"I was really proud of Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka as well, for prioritizing their mental health," Kim said. "I hope that people realize that as athletes and Olympians, we face a lot of pressure. It's important to slow down, take a step back, and validate your emotions. Respecting yourself is so important."
Naomi Osaka prepares for a return to tennis
Naomi Osaka returned to action at the Tokyo Olympics following her mid-season hiatus, but her time on the tour was brief. The Japanese opted to take another break from the sport following her third-round exit from the US Open.
But the 24-year-old recently posted pictures of herself practicing, indicating she's hard at work and ready to return next year, possibly at the Australian Open, where she is the defending champion.
If Osaka does make the trip to Melbourne for the 2022 season's opening Slam, it will be her fourth shot at a Major title defense. The Japanese is yet to successfully defend a Slam title, with her best run coming at the 2019 US Open, where she made the fourth round.
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Winning back-to-back Grand Slams in the same event has become a rarity on the WTA Tour, with Serena Williams the last woman to do so at 2016 Wimbledon.