In light of recent developments among the top tennis players in the world, this year’s US Open is missing some considerable star power. The players who are set to participate in the tournament will have some new services available to them to assist with the strain a major tournament can have on mental health.
The United States Tennis Association will make licensed mental health providers, as well as “quiet rooms,” available to players at this year’s US Open as part of the tournament’s medical services. It all has to do with a new mental health initiative, the USTA said in a statement.
“The issue of mental health awareness has been brought to the forefront over the course of the global pandemic, as many individuals, players included, have struggled with the stresses and emotions that have come as a result of COVID-19,” read a statement by USTA Chief Executive Stacey Allaster. “Together with the multi-dimensional pressures within professional sport, this new reality highlighted the need to provide additional resources to support all aspects of athletes’ health, including their mental health and wellbeing.
“We look forward to seeing how the initiatives implemented at this year’s tournament, and in the coming months, make an impact on player wellbeing, and will continue to look for ways to improve and adapt as we move forward.”
The tournament’s increased focus on mental health services comes in the wake of highly-publicized issues experienced by women’s tennis star Naomi Osaka. She opened up about her issues with depression and anxiety during a series of events that included her withdrawal from the French Open amid criticism over avoiding media obligations.
Osaka took some time away from tennis until July, when she competed in the Tokyo Olympics.
While the US Open is set to begin on August 30, a number of notable players in both men’s and women’s competition — including Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Sofia Kenin — will not compete in the last major tournament of 2021.