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Plot twist. Sporting superstars are only human | TICKER VIEWS

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Tennis superstar, Naomi Osaka, shocked the world when she withdrew from the French Open, citing mental health struggles.

Should elite athletes be allowed to forfeit press responsibilities?

According to AFL legend and mental health advocate Wayne Schwass, yes. He believes it was a brave move from Osaka, and draws much needed attention to others suffering in silence.

“I applaud her for having the maturity to prioritise her mental health an emotional wellbeing.

It’s a timely reminder, you can have a lot of money, a lot of fame, but it doesn’t mean you’re immune from these kinds of conditions”

Wayne schwass

Osaka’s decision to refuse the traditional press conference came with mixed emotions. The Tennis Federation initially responded with expressions of disappointment. Grand Slam officials went as far as threatening Osaka from future tournaments. There’s no doubt the media and the sponsors are a driving financial force behind the Tennis going ahead. With this, they consistently expect commitment from the players and the media demand comes with the role. Journalists are doing their job, by asking the questions.

But a few questions to consider:

If someone at this level is vulnerable enough to speak up, is criticising that person the right response?

Will shaming Osaka deter others who are suffering, from speaking up?

If Osaka presented with a physical health concern, would she have received a different response

In sports, mental health, is often not given the same recognition or compassion as physical injuries. There are no plaster casts or crutches that can be used to signal mental illness. In a bold move, more athletes at this level are sharing their silent mental health struggles. Many sports now incorporate programs to support players and athletes mental health. If you consider the NFL, the NBA, the AFL, swimming or any other sporting league, there are many reports of athletes struggling with their mental health.

Schwass believes any criticism leads to discrimination… which leads to stigma… and it needs to stop.

“We don’t discriminate against people that have other legitimate health conditions, so we must stop doing it to people that have legitimate mental health conditions.”

Wayne Schwass

Naomi Osaka, a 23-year-old tennis superstar, a young woman, but most of all a human. So, let’s hope she finds peace and health in all aspects of her life. Let’s stand with her in support during the tough times, just as we would stand with her in celebration of another Grand Slam Title.

If you, or anyone you know is struggling, please contact your local helpline.

Holly is an anchor and reporter at Ticker. She's experienced in live reporting, and has previously covered the Covid-19 pandemic on-location. She's passionate about telling stories in business, climate and health.

Sport

Williams loses first round at Wimbledon

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There’s been a bit of drama on the court as the most prestigious tennis Grand Slam gets underway

Spectators filled the All England Club on Monday to watch the biggest tennis stars hit the court at Wimbledon.

After coming back from a lengthy break, Serena Williams lost in three sets to 24-year-old, Harmony Tan.

“When I saw the draw, I was really scared. I don’t know what to say, I’m so emotional now because she’s a superstar,” Tan says.

Tan took the first set 7-5, before Williams took over 6-1. Tan fought back to win a thrilling third set tie-breaker.

“Because it’s Serena Williams, she’s a legend. I was like, oh my God. How can I play? If I could win one game, or two games, it’s really good for me.”

HARMONY TAN

Despite her dramatic loss, the former world number one is brushing off retirement rumours.

Kyrgios spits at crowd

Meanwhile, in men’s singles, Aussie tennis star, Nick Kyrgios, caused a bit of a stir calling the chair umpire a “snitch” after she supposedly complained to the court umpire about his behaviour.

The 27-year-old will likely be up for a fine for also spitting towards a fan during the match.

Kyrgios says there was a lot of disrespect from the crowd, which is why he admitted to spitting towards a fan.

“I’ve been dealing with hate and negativity for a long time, so I don’t feel like I owed that person anything,” he says.

The ATP remains in crisis talks over Wimbledon’s Russia ban.

Katerina Kostakos contributed to this report

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Sport

Mike Riley steps down as referee chief

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One of the biggest names in the referee world, Mike Riley, has confirmed he will be stepping down as head of the English League referees

After 13 years, Mike Riley has confirmed he will be stepping down from his role as managing director of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).

The iconic referee leader will finish his role at the end of the 2022-23 season. Riley says he has enjoyed working in such a ‘dedicated group’.

“I am proud of the contribution our match officials have made to the professional game and have enjoyed working with a such a dedicated, professional and high-quality group at all of the levels that PGMOL manages.

As the elite referee development plan begins to take shape, now is the right time to plan for the future and allow the new leadership team to build on the strong foundations that we have in place. I look forward to working with the new team over the next season and giving them my support before I step down.”

mike riley

The Premier League formally thanked Riley for his contributions and commitment over the last 13 years.

“On behalf of the Premier League, I would like to thank Mike for his valuable contribution and significant commitment to PGMOL over the last 13 years as well as his considerable service to the game as an elite referee for 20 years,” said the Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters.

“During his time at PGMOL, he has worked hard to deliver and develop high-quality match officials across the professional game and led on the implementation of VAR into the Premier League three seasons ago.”

PGMOL

The search is now on to replace the top spot with Riley collaborating with the new team before officially stepping down.

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Hero coach rescues U.S. swimmer at Olympic event

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U.S. Swimming coach, Andrea Fuentes, has saved the life of an American Swimmer, Anita Alvarez, at the FINA World Championships

Fuentes dived into the pool to rescue unconscious Alvarez from the bottom after her Olympic qualifying event.

In a nightmare moment, the 25-year-old didn’t return for breath after her synchronised swimming event and instead began to sink.

In a split-moment decision, Coach Fuentes jumped into the pool to rescue her, after the lifeguards failed to act.

When a swimmer finishes their routine, the first thing they want to do is breathe and so I saw that instead of going up, she was going down and I told myself, ‘Something is going on’ … So I went in as fast as I could.”

Andrea Fuentes

The young Olympic medalist was unconscious and not breathing but quickly received medical attention on the edge of the pool.

She was taken to hospital and is now reportedly in ‘good health’.

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