In the summer of 2018, a first time US tennis open winner suffered the agony of victory.
Twenty-year-old Naomi Osaka handed the greatest woman tennis champion a resounding defeat by beating Serena Williams in 2 sets, 6-2,6-4. But instead of the cheers and accolades afforded a victory, Osaka only heard boos from the crowd.
Of course, some will say that the crowd was booing the controversy between Serena and the chair judge who penalized her for multiple confrontations, but it probably didn’t matter to Osaka. Her victory and its celebration were tainted and in the media room afterwards, that hullabaloo became the focus on the interviews.
Last week, the women’s world number 1 took her own stand by refusing to meet with the media at the French Open claiming that their treatment of her as an athlete adversely affects her mental well-being. She took her position all the way to withdrawing from the tournament and in doing so, showed everyone that healing her mind is just as important as would be healing a pulled hamstring.
WOW. How great is that!
Much has been written in the past several months related to mental health and well-being. Part of the is about the impact of the pandemic but on a larger scale, it is a recognition that we are finally seem ready to take mental well-being out of the shadows and into the sunlight where it can begin to heal.
After the championship match that summer day in 2018, Serena Williams put her arm around Naomi Osaka and told her “that she was really proud of her.” What a healing remark to a young champion.
The Leadership Café
What a thrill it was this week to interview Sonia Layne-Gartside who was recently named the 2021 Leader of the Year by the Pittsburgh Human Resource Association. In addition to her work in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, her book, Workplace Anxiety is a timely reference for addressing everyone’s return to work!
Check out her interview here.