On Saturday (July 10), ESPN celebrated the year’s best athletes and sports moments at the 2021 ESPYs live from New York City on The Rooftop at Pier 17 at the Seaport.
Tennis star Naomi Osaka was in attendance making her first public appearance after withdrawing from the French Open and Wimbledon for mental health reasons.
Osaka won two ESPY Awards, receiving trophies for the Best Athlete, Women’s Sports and Best Women’s Tennis Player. Visibly anxious, the world’s No. 2 women’s tennis player took the stage at the ESPYs to accept her award for Best Athlete, Women’s Sports.
“I just really not want to say a long speech because I’m a bit nervous,” she said as the audience cheered her on. “I just want to say thank you ESPN, thank you to all the supporters, thank you to all my fans.”
“I know this year’s been really — it hasn’t even finished — but it’s been really tough for a lot of us and, for me,” she continued. “I just want to say ‘I really love you guys’ and this is my first ESPYs, so it’s really cool to be surrounded by all these incredible athletes. I think all of you guys are really cool and I watch some of you guys on TV, so it’s really surreal to be here.”
Osaka handled her moment with dignity and poise. It’s been just over a month since the four-time Grand Slam champion revealed she suffers from social anxiety and depression.
On Thursday, TIME Magazine published an essay written by Osaka, titled “It’s O.K. Not to Be O.K.” “I feel uncomfortable being the spokesperson or face of athlete mental health as it’s still so new to me and I don’t have all the answers,” she wrote. “I do hope that people can relate and understand it’s okay to not be okay, and it’s okay to talk about it. There are people who can help, and there is usually light at the end of any tunnel.”
Watch Naomi Osaka accept the ESPY Award for Best Athlete, Women’s Sports below: