Calm app will pay fines for tennis players skipping Grand slam press conferences because of mental health

Calm app will pay fines for tennis players skipping Grand slam press conferences because of mental health

The meditation app Calm has offered Naomi Osaka arguably the most impressive show of support so far after the tennis star withdrew from the French Open owing to struggles with depression.

The world number two announced her exit following a furore caused by her decision not to take part in press conferences or interviews at the tournament.

Osaka, 23, was ordered to pay £10,500 by Roland Garros chiefs after she refused to speak to the media following her first-round win.

Now, Calm has announced that it will pay fines for any tennis player opting to avoid grand slam press conferences for mental health reasons.

The platform, which describes itself as a sleep, relaxation and meditation app, said it would donate $15,000 (£10,600) to Laureus Sport to support Osaka’s decision to put her mental health first.

It added: “But this is bigger than any individual player.

“Calm will also pay the fine for players opting out of 2021 Grand Slam media appearances for mental health reasons, and we will match the fine with a 15,000 dollar donation to @LaureusSport.”

The company has been widely praised for the move, with one Twitter user writing: “This is what the best startups are all about.”

Here’s how others responded:

Ahead of this year’s French Open, Osaka said expecting players to answer questions after a defeat amounted to “kicking a person while they’re down”.

Japan’s four-time Grand Slam champion posted on Twitter: “I’m writing this to say I’m not going to do any press during Roland Garros.

“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.

“We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.

“I’ve watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well. I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they are down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”

Osaka added the decision was “nothing personal” against the tournament and that she hopes the “considerable” fine she expected to receive will go to a mental health charity.

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