Andrea Jaeger: USTA Announces Mental Health Resources for U.S. Open

Tennis stars are using their voice. The dialogue surrounding mental health awareness has grown louder over the last couple of months, explains Andrea Jaeger. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is finally listening.

Prior to the start of this year’s U.S. Open, the organization announced its new mental health initiative. Described as a holistic approach, the program was created to provide improved mental and emotional support. It featured designated quiet rooms and expanded support services. Most importantly, players had access to licensed mental health providers throughout the entire event, says Andrea Jaeger.

The USTA acknowledged that mental health was a looming concern that needed to be addressed. In their press release, Tournament Director and Chief Executive Stacey Allaster discussed a “new reality” that demonstrated the need for these new services.

“The issue of mental health awareness has been brought to the forefront over the course of the global pandemic, as many individuals, players included, have struggled with the stresses and emotions that have come as a result of COVID-19,” she stated in the release.

Although not referenced directly in the announcement, if anyone has been on the “forefront,” it was Naomi Osaka. In May, the superstar ignited a media firestorm when she abruptly withdrew from the French Open in order to address her own mental health. She experienced anxiety and “long bouts of depression” that stemmed from mandatory press conferences. Rather than offering support, tournament officials initially responded with a fine and threats of harsher punishments. Instead of caving to these added pressures, Naomi Osaka elected to walk away. The No.2-ranked player in the world made a resounding statement that her own well-being was more important than anything on the court. As the news broke, other athletes from virtually every sport took to Twitter or Instagram to offer their support and show solidarity.

Despite this time away, Naomi Osaka still struggled noticeably during the U.S. Open. Following an upset loss, the tennis icon fought back tears as she addressed reporters. Telling reporters she may take an indefinite leave from the game, she described an inability to find happiness, even after victories.

This setback is further proof why the USTA’s new mental health program is so crucial. Winning doesn’t heal anxiety. Medals won’t make you immune to mental issues. Like today’s stars, Andrea Jaeger also learned this lesson at a young age. Despite turning pro at the age of 14, earning the No. 2 ranking in the world, and advancing to the Wimbledon finals, the tennis legend was never fulfilled. Something felt missing. Eventually, Andrea Jaeger discovered her true calling. Since retiring in 1985, she has dedicated her life to philanthropy, religion, and service to others.

Although the U.S. Open ended on September 12, the verdict is still out on the USTA’s debut initiative. Still, Andrea Jaeger and others appreciate the effort. Any increased awareness is another step in the right direction.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s