Calm app offers to pay fines for players opting out of French Open press conferences

The mindfulness and meditation app says they will support any players who need to prioritize their mental health

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This week, Calm, the company behind the popular meditation and mindfulness app, has not only stepped up in support of Naomi Osaka but also offered to pay fines for other athletes.

According to PEOPLE, on Wednesday, Calm announced that they would cover any potential fines for mentally distressed athletes who wish to opt out of media appearances during the 2021 French Open.

“To support Naomi Osaka’s decision to prioritize her mental health, Calm is donating $15,000 to @LaureusSport in France, an organization doing incredible work in the mental health space to transform the lives of young people through the power of sport,” the company announced on it’s official Twitter page.

2021 French Open - Day One
Naomi Osaka on Day One of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on May 30, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

“But this is bigger than any individual player,” they continued in a subsequent tweet. “Calm will also pay the fine for players opting out of 2021 Grand Slam media appearances for mental health reasons.”

Last week, the 23-year-old made headlines when she announced she would not be doing press during the tournament to protect her peace. After a backlash coupled with a groundswell of support, Osaka decided to depart the French Open entirely.

“The truth is that I have suffered from long bouts of depression since the U.S. Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that,” she shared in a message on social media that drew both applause and critique.

“Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize especially to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt), I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media. I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can.”

“I’m gonna take some time away from he court now, but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans,” she wrote.

In response to the mental health discussions sparked by this unprecedented public stance, Tuesday, officials from the French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Australian Open all pledged to help create a healthier environment for athletes.

“On behalf of the Grand Slams, we wish to offer Naomi Osaka our support and assistance in any way possible as she takes time away from the court. She is an exceptional athlete and we look forward to her return as soon as she deems appropriate,” their statement read. “We commend Naomi for sharing in her own words the pressures and anxieties she is feeling and we empathize with the unique pressures tennis players may face.”

2021 French Open - Day One
Naomi Osaka at the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on May 30, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

“Together as a community we will continue to improve the player experience at our tournaments, including as it relates to media,” the statement continued. “We intend to work alongside the players, the tours, the media and the broader tennis community to create meaningful improvements. As Grand Slams, we aim to create the stage for the players to achieve the highest accolades in our sport.”

As we previously reported, this week, multi-hyphenate entertainer Will Smith also penned a note of support for the tennis star which he shared on his Instagram page. 

In his note, Smith wrote, “Hey Naomi. You are Right. They are Wrong! I am with You.” He ended the letter with a heart and his signature. 

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