Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has shown his support for Naomi Osaka and criticised the ‘people in power’ for Naomi’s withdrawal from the French Open after the fallout over her decision to not engage with media.
The four-time Grand Slam winner withdrew from the tournament on Monday. This after she decided to skip post-match press duties citing mental health and was fined 15,000 dollars after her win in the first round. The tournament organisers then said the Japanese tennis star can be subjected to additional sanctions if she continues to ignore her media obligations.
The 7-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton backed Osaka on this issue and condemned the organisers of the French Open for their treatment of the current World number two.
Speaking in Baku ahead of this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Hamilton said “I think she is incredible and I applaud her for her bravery because I think it’s now asking those in power to… think about how they reacted because I think the way they react wasn’t good.
“Someone talking about their personal mental health and then being fined for it, that was not cool. I think they could have definitely handled it better and I hope they will take a deep dive into it and find a better way to navigate in the future.”
Hamilton added, “When you are young, you are thrown into the limelight and the spotlight, and it weighs heavily on you. Most of us are not prepared,” he said. “I have learned the hard way, and made many a mistake. It can be daunting in front of a camera. It is not the easiest thing to do, particularly if you are an introvert and you struggle under those kinds of pressures.”
Earlier, swimming legend Michael Phelps had also shown his support for Naomi and appreciated the tennis star’s effort for her mental health.
Phelps, a mental health campaigner since his second retirement from the pool, told CNN: “She’s showing her vulnerability and she’s doing it her own way. I was so happy for her to be able to share exactly what she wanted.”