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USTA Announces Mental Health Initiative

INTERNATIONAL: “Mental health” was the buzz-phrase at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with world champion gymnast, Simone Biles, withdrawing from several events citing her poor mental health. Earlier this year, it also hit the world of tennis, with women’s number two Naomi Osaka withdrawing from the French Open after refusing to make media appearances, saying they were having a negative impact on her state of mind.

The United States Tennis Association has clearly been listening. It’s announced a mental health initiative for players ahead of next week’s U.S. Open. Competitors at Flushing Meadows will have access to what the tournament is calling its "comprehensive medical services program". It will include access to mental health providers and "quiet rooms". Tournament director, Stacey Allaster says the issue of mental health awareness has been brought to the forefront over the course of the pandemic, with most people, including sports stars, struggling with the stress and emotion that has come as a result of Covid-19.

Since Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal, the French Open has said it could also do better at addressing the mental health challenges players are dealing with. Osaka is expected to play in New York next week.

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