Thomas Bjorn calls for more support for athletes struggling with mental health

Thomas Bjorn

Thomas Bjorn has called on sports’ governing bodies to do more to help athletes struggling with their mental health in the wake of tennis star Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open.

Four-time grand slam champion Osaka pulled out of the tournament amid a furore caused by her decision to skip mandatory press conferences.

The 23-year-old declined to participate in media sessions at Roland Garros, saying that they were negatively impacting her mental health. In return, she was fined more than £10,000 by tournament organisers and threatened with expulsion from the event.

• Watson hails Phil Mickelson for US PGA win

• Homa finally gives in to persistent fan

Osaka pre-empted that prospect by withdrawing instead, an act of what she called ‘self care’ after her struggles with depression following her 2018 US Open victory.

Bjorn, who documented some of his own mental health battles in his book ‘Mind Game’, took to Twitter to express sympathy with Osaka and called for more to be done to end the stigma and challenge misconceptions surrounding mental health amongst athletes.

“Talking to the media and participating in press conferences are definitely part of the job of a professional athlete,” wrote the 2018 Ryder Cup winning captain. “It’s what top players do in any sport to attract attention to the sport and support the need from fans and sponsors. It’s part of the game.

• DiMarco wants "undercover police" at tour events

“However, when I saw Naomi Osaka WD from Roland Garros, it made me think about a few things.

“When athletes are children, they just want to do their sport without any consideration of the bigger picture. It’s pure love and joy for the game they play. Often very innocent.

“In today’s world, talented children are often driven extremely hard by parents, sports institutions and even their country to become the best they can. This can be every testing for any child and there are many examples of total burnouts.”

• Thomas makes classy gesture to fellow pro

He added: “Mental awareness/health is something that still is frowned upon in the sporting world. [Some people think] Athletes in many sports have great financial upside and therefore should just do as they are told because of the privilege stowed upon them. I really struggle with this mindset.

“Naomi Osaka is a human being that has issues that she needs help and support with. Sporting governing bodies need to do more to help athletes with their mental health problems. Naomi Osaka is a great athlete and tennis is a better sport with her in it.”

Share this Article

share-logo
twitter-logo facebook-logo

Latest Videos See all videos right arrow

play button
THE SIMPLE WAY TO FLUSH YOUR IRONS | with Ewen Ferguson
Ewen Ferguson
play button
DO THE TAYLORMADE P790 IRONS LIVE UP TO THE HYPE?
TaylorMade
play button
I TAKE ON THE BEST AMATEUR GOLFER IN SCOTLAND
angus carrick
play button
WHO WOULD USE THIS GOLF CLUB? | TaylorMade 300 Mini Driver review
TaylorMade
See all videos right arrow

Golf News

Former PGA Tour pro has leg amputated
PXG boss offers staff cash bonus to get COVID vaccine
Women's golf is "neglected" says Gary Player
Dustin Johnson: I want to be US Ryder Cup captain
“I can’t keep playing the way I am” - Jason Day opens up on struggles

Other Top Stories

Tiger Woods: Inside his $41million Florida mansion
The very best pubs in St Andrews
The Scottish Golf Course Emoji Quiz!
24 lies every bad golfer tells
Doug Sanders: The extraordinary life of golf's original playboy

Quick Fault 'n' Fixes See all videos right arrow

play button
How to improve your balance during the golf swing
Watch
play button
Open up your left foot to get through the ball
Watch
play button
How a stronger grip can lead to extra distance
Watch
play button
Swing your arms more freely
Callaway
See all videos right arrow