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Meditation app vows to pay fines of tennis pros who skip news conferences in honor of Naomi Osaka, mental health

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A meditation app is making the most of the the Naomi Osaka/French Open controversy. 

Calm vowed on Wednesday to make a $15,000 donation to youth sports charity Laureus Sport for Good in Osaka's name, citing her "decision to prioritize her mental health." The app also pledged to pay the fines of any player citing mental health issues who skips a news conference during the 2021 Grand Slam season.

For each fine that it pays, it pledged an additional $15,000 to Laureus. 

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Osaka's French Open withdrawal shakes up tennis

Osaka made news last week with her decision to skip post-match media obligations at the French Open, citing mental health concerns. When she followed through with her plan after a first-round win, executives from tennis' four Grand Slam events fined Osaka $15,000 and vowed to ramp up penalties with fines and potential suspensions, citing contractual obligations and a competitive advantage over athletes who do speak with media. 

Osaka responded by withdrawing from the French Open with a detailed clarification about her concern for her mental health

“The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that,” Osaka wrote. “Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety.

"Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize 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."

Osaka's withdrawal ignited a debate over how best to balance the mental health of athletes with access for journalists telling stories. 

The $15,000 Calm pledges that match the total of Osaka's French Open fine would go to a charity that touts support 200 sports programs in more than 40 countries

Per Laureus:

"Our vision is to use sport as a powerful and cost-effective tool to help children and young people overcome violence, discrimination and disadvantage in their lives."

PARIS, FRANCE May 26. Naomi Osaka of Japan during practice on Court Philippe-Chatrier during a practice match against Ashleigh Barty of Australia  in preparation for the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on May 2pm 6th 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE May 26. Naomi Osaka of Japan during practice on Court Philippe-Chatrier during a practice match against Ashleigh Barty of Australia in preparation for the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on May 2pm 6th 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

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