Greg Rusedski believes Naomi Osaka is “needed in the women’s game” and hopes she can return to her best form during the ongoing US Open 2021.
Osaka has been involved in a running battle with members of the press amid her personal mental health struggles to the point where she withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon after facing criticism for not featuring in mandatory press conferences at the former.
Rusedski – who will feature as an expert on Amazon Prime Video’s US Open 2021 coverage – believes she does have a responsibility to talk to the media, but remains sympathetic towards Osaka’s situation and hopes she can return to her best.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, he said: “I hope she gets back to her best because she’s definitely needed in the women’s game.
“From my point of view, I wish her all the best. I hope she can get back to where she could be from a mental point of view and she needs to make sure the team and the people she hires to have around her can help her get back there. If she wins tennis matches, that’s a bonus, but you’ve got to take care of your mental health. That’s the key.
“We just want her to get back to where she was, but you have to deal with the press, that’s part of your job. She needs a good team of people around her, to advise her.
“You worry about her mental health and how she feels in herself. If she feels good in herself and feels well then she can perform and everything takes care of itself.”
Rusedski was keen to balance player welfare with the responsibilities that come with the platform of being an elite tennis player, and that includes speaking to the media.
However, he believes Osaka can take steps towards “taking control” of her situation from his own experience of dealing with media.
He said: “You can be forward and say, ‘I only want to talk about tennis questions today before the press conference starts. I’m not talking about personal things. I’m not talking about charity things I’m doing. Today I’m only going to talk about tennis questions.’ You can take control in that situation.”