The Coronavirus outbreak sparked discourse about professional athletes’ mental health. Individuals who took extraordinary steps to protect their mental health were at the forefront of the discussions.
Due to mental health difficulties, Naomi Osaka and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the French Open and the individual all-around competition at the Olympics, respectively. Tennis legend John McEnroe has now expressed his thoughts on the topic.
Without a doubt, the conversation around mental health in athletics was long overdue. That’s why McEnroe enlisted the help of two of the most knowledgeable people on the subject, Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles, to explain the current situation.
While he is pleased that the debate has begun, he also disclosed some critical things that can help to improve the situation.
What did John McEnroe say?
The former American tennis legend mostly discussed how the epidemic influenced an athlete’s psyche. It is, indeed, a phenomenon that has impacted every sport, not just tennis.
“We’re hearing more and more about mental health from Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka. This pandemic, this unheard-of event, once in 100 years. This stuff can be overwhelming in addition to just trying to live the best you can. The fact that we’re discussing mental health more is key,” McEnroe told, as reported in WSJ. Magazine.
In addition, the seven-time Grand Slam winner remarked on how things were different back then. But now, with his tennis academy, McEnroe is shifting the story as well.
“I think I hid behind my own at times, where I’d express anger as opposed to vulnerability, because guys growing up weren’t supposed to cry. That’s changing, which is healthy, but it’s a process.
“I’m here at my tennis academy, nurturing and helping the kids through times where it can be overwhelming. Keeping that perspective is the key thing,” he concluded.
Osaka withdrew from the French Open 2021 competition following her first-round match, claiming mental health issues. She took a long vacation after that, skipping the Wimbledon Championships in the process.
Later in her career, the four-time Grand Slam winner returned for the Olympics and the US Open, but she was eliminated early in both competitions. As a result, Osaka broke down in tears in front of the press in New York, announcing an indefinite vacation from tennis, which she is still doing.
The necessity for structural safeguards for athletes’ mental health is becoming apparent, and it is hoped that significant improvements will be made to secure their well-being.