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June 2, 2021, 2:46 p.m. EDT

‘I wish I could give her a hug’ — Tennis and NBA stars react to Naomi Osaka’s French Open withdrawal

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By Weston Blasi

Tennis star Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open on Monday and said she will be taking a hiatus from competition, citing her mental health.

In the statement she put out on Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR +2.39% , Osaka says she gets “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to the media and revealed she has “suffered long bouts of depression.”

Before the tournament, Osaka, the No. 2 player in the world, announced on social media that she would not participate in news conferences during the French Open. Over the weekend, Osaka was fined $15,000 when she opted out of a news conference after her most recent match. Tennis players at major tournaments are required to participate in news conferences if requested to do so, according to the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

See also: Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski will retire after next season

The fine won’t hurt Osaka’s earnings too much, as she is the highest paid female athlete in the world with endorsement deals with Nike /zigman2/quotes/203439053/composite NKE +0.54% , Apple’s /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -1.22% Beats by Dre and Mastercard /zigman2/quotes/207581792/composite MA -1.75% , among others.

Some of the biggest names in tennis reacted to Osaka’s French Open withdrawal on social media. Tennis legend and gender equality advocate Billie Jean King called Osaka, 23, “incredibly brave.”

Tennis phenom Coco Gauff showed support for Osaka as well.

Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, reacted to Osaka’s tournament withdrawal during an interview with the New York Times /zigman2/quotes/202090840/composite NYT +1.23% .

“I feel for Naomi, and I wish I could give her a hug because I’ve been in those situations,” Williams told  the New York Times . “You have to let her handle it the way she wants to in the best way she can.”

It was not just tennis players who reacted to Osaka’s statement about her mental health. Former NBA MVP Stephen Curry and NBA Rookie of the Year Ja Morant also tweeted words of encouragement to Osaka.

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