Lewis Hamilton sends mental health support to Naomi Osaka who is ‘not alone’

Lewis Hamilton has praised the courage of Naomi Osaka following her decision to withdraw from the French Open – asking his followers to make sure she knows she's not alone.

The world No 2, who had beaten Patricia Maria Tig in her opening match on Sunday, had outlined her desire not to take part in press conferences or interviews during the tournament.

That did not go down well with the organisers, with the Grand Slams releasing a joint statement that threatened her with potential disqualification from future tournaments unless she reconsidered.

Following the news that she had pulled out of the competition, Hamilton has urged her situation to be taken seriously, relaying the important message that mental health is not a joke.

She said: “Hey everyone, this isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago.

“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.”

Hamilton said in response: "Mental health is not a joke, this is real and serious.

"This takes a lot of courage to do. Let's all make sure Naomi knows she's not alone. Today is a good day to check and ask your friends and loved ones how they are doing and let them know they are not alone."

Osaka continued regarding her decision: “I never wanted to be be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.

“More importantly, I would never trivialise mental health or use the term lightly.

“The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.

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“Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety.

“Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologise especially to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt).

"I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media.”

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