Meghan Markle sent support to Naomi Osaka after player revealed depression battle

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·Royal Correspondent
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PARIS, FRANCE May 30.  Naomi Osaka of Japan during her match against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania in the first round of the Women's Singles competition on Court Philippe-Chatrier at the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on May 30th 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Naomi Osaka of Japan during her match against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania in the first round of the 2021 French Open. She later withdrew. (Corbis via Getty Images)

Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka has revealed Meghan Markle was among those to send her messages of support after she announced she did not want to do press conferences during the French Open to protect her mental health.

Osaka, 23, became embroiled in a row during Roland Garros when she said she would not take part in the post-match press conferences, because they became uncomfortable and gave her doubts on the court.

She was fined by the Open organisers for missing her first mandatory press conference when she won the opening match, and was threatened with fines throughout that tournament and future grand slams, leading her to drop out of the competition.

As she withdrew she explained she has suffered with bouts of depression since the US Open final in 2018.

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex arrives at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, on October 01, 2019. - Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, is meeting academics and students to discuss the challenges faced by young women in accessing higher education. (Photo by Michele Spatari / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MICHELE SPATARI/AFP/Getty Images)
Meghan, here in South Africa in 2019, sent support to Osaka after the row. (AFP)

Read more: How Prince Harry became a mental health champion

She also withdrew from Wimbledon but plans to represent her native Japan at the Tokyo Olympics.

Writing for Time Magazine ahead of the multi-sport competition, she said she had received support from many high profile people after discussing her mental health struggles.

She wrote: "I also want to thank those in the public eye who have supported, encouraged and offered such kind words.

"Michelle Obama, Michael Phelps, Steph Curry, Novak Djokovic, Meghan Markle, to name a few."

Meghan and her husband Prince Harry have long made mental health support part of their work, both when they were senior royals and now through their foundation Archewell.

The royal couple also spoke about their own mental health difficulties in the Spring, as Meghan told Oprah Winfrey during an interview that she had struggled with suicidal thoughts.

And Harry has previously said he left the UK because of the impact of the press on his mental health.

Watch: What Naomi Osaka's French Open withdrawal means for tennis

Read more: Pregnant Princess Beatrice in polka dots joined by husband Edoardo in Wimbledon's royal box

Osaka's essay appeared in Time's look ahead to the Olympics, which are confirmed to be going ahead without spectators in late July because of the ongoing coronavirus situation in Japan. 

She also called for tennis players to be granted "sick days", saying: "In any other line of work, you would be forgiven for taking a personal day here and there, so long as it’s not habitual. You wouldn’t have to divulge your most personal symptoms to your employer; there would likely be HR measures protecting at least some level of privacy.

"In my case, I felt under a great amount of pressure to disclose my symptoms—frankly because the press and the tournament did not believe me."

She clarified that she enjoys the press, but does not like every press conference, and noted her own high number of one-on-one interviews with journalists throughout her career so far.

Osaka has won four grand slam titles, winning the Australian and US Opens twice each.

She was ranked number one in the world, and is currently ranked second to Ash Barty.

Watch: Meghan reveals she had suicidal thoughts

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