Venus Williams becomes latest athlete to open up on mental health issues
The mental health of female athletes has been in the spotlight in recent months, after Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles spoke about their experiences.
Now, Venus Williams has revealed her own struggles at points in her successful career, as she explained that to be “tough” is to take care of your “whole self.”
In one piece for The New York Times, the tennis star, 41, recalled how it was his mother Oracene who instilled in him, at the age of 14, the importance of ensuring his psychological and physical well-being in order to “thrive”.
Williams wrote that, like everyone else, she has faced “mental health issues resulting from the inevitable setbacks and uncertainties of life.”
Williams – who has won seven Grand Slam titles – said: âIt doesn’t matter who you areâ¦ you can’t separate mental health from everything you do. It impacts your physical well-being, your grip. decision, your ability to cope with difficult times. “
The sportswoman explained that with her sister, fellow tennis pro Serena, 39, she had been taught to “fight harder than other players to get the respect we deserve” and that for a long time she had thought that that was what it meant to be “hard”. .
She said she was âluckyâ to have her brother – on a very similar trajectory – there to support her during times of testing, noting: âAdmitting that you are vulnerable is no joke. is not easy to ask for help or to confide in people having emotional struggles â.
Williams also revealed that years of “holistic thinking” about her health helped her cope with the diagnosis of an autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, in 2011.
The most common symptoms of the disease are fatigue and a dry mouth or eyes, but people who suffer from it may also experience muscle and joint pain.
Hinting at her psychological struggles during this time, Williams said: “I also sought out mental health professionals to help me see more clearly – not to let my fears distort my reality – and to develop my ability to learn to stay in the moment. “
She concluded by saying that taking care of her overall well-being is “the thing that really made it difficult for me.”
Her courageous comments come after tennis player Naomi Osaka, 23, withdrew from this year’s French Open due to her mental health.
In a statement on Instagram, the Japanese star said: “The truth is that I have suffered from long periods of depression since the US Open in 2018 and have had a hard time coping with it.”
Then, soon after, American gymnast Simone Biles, 24, revealed that her mental health was not good enough for her to compete in the team final competition at the Tokyo Olympics.
Talk to NBC At the time, the four-time Olympic gold medalist said: “Physically, I feel good. Emotionally, things like that vary from time to time.”
She added: “Make mental health a priority because if you don’t, you are not going to enjoy your sport and you are not going to be successful as much as you want to be.”
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