By Ryan Gaydos
August 26, 2021
The U.S. Open will have some new additions as the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) puts more of a focus on players’ mental health.
The final major tennis tournament of the year will make mental health providers available to tennis players along with “quiet rooms.”
“The medical services program for the 2021 tournament will include licensed mental health providers, giving players access to mental health services throughout the duration of the event,” the USTA said in a statement. “In addition, quiet rooms and other support services will be provided. The US Open will work closely and collaboratively with the WTA and ATP sport science and medicine staff on site in an effort to ensure players understand the enhanced medical services available, and how to access these health offerings as needed.”
The focus comes after Naomi Osaka dropped out of the French Open when she received criticism for avoiding press availabilities. She opened up about her bouts with depression and took some time away from the sport until last month when she appeared in the Olympics for Japan.
“The USTA and US Open are always looking for ways to work collaboratively with the other Grand Slam events, ATP, WTA and ITF to provide the greatest level of support for our competitors,” USTA CEO and Executive Director Mike Dowse said in a statement. “We recognize that ensuring the mental health of the players is an area that needed to be addressed, and we are taking formative steps to give athletes the necessary resources to compete at the highest level.”
USTA Chief Executive Stacey Allaster added: “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.
“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 U.S. Open is set to begin on Aug. 30. Players like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Sofia Kenin all dropped out of the tournament.