AceShowbiz - Michael Phelps has something to say about Naomi Osaka's candid statement about her mental health issue. After the four-time Grand Slam champion spoke out about the reason why she withdrew from the French Open, the 23-time Olympic gold medalist admitted that he felt "very happy."
"I felt very happy after reading her message because she's showing that vulnerability," the professional swimmer said during an interview with Time published on Wednesday, June 2. The 35-year-old further praised the highest-paid female athlete, stating, "She's showing a side of her that we haven't seen before, and that's so powerful."
Michael, who is also a mental health advocate who executive-produced a 2020 documentary focusing on athletes' mental wellness, went on to claim, "It's definitely going to be a game-changer in mental health moving forward." As he admitted that he was "happy" for Naomi, he shared that he was first "almost shocked" to read some of the backlash against Naomi.
"I was almost shocked in a way," he shared, "especially with everything I feel like the world has learned about mental health over the last year." However, after seeing more support Naomi received the next day, he told Time that it brought "a smile to [his] face." He explained further, "Because yes, then we are understanding that this is something that, it doesn't matter if you're number one in the world or the average Joe, anybody can go through this."
Michael went on to note that the mental health issue "is real." The professional athlete wished, "I hope this is the breaking point of really being able to open up and save more lives."
On Monday, May 31, Naomi announced her decision to pull out of the French Open after she was fined $15,000 and threatened with disqualification for refusing to take part in a press conference over the weekend. In a statement she posted on her social media accounts, the tennis ace went on revealing that she has been living with depression for years.
"I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly," Naomi penned in her note. "The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that."