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Amanda Anisimova became the latest women's tennis player to admit that she is struggling mentally when she announced that she was taking an indefinite break from the game, earlier this week.

In doing so, the world No.47 became one of a number of high-profile women on the WTA Tour to go public over her concerns for her mental health saying that “It's become unbearable being at tennis tournaments. At this point my priority is my mental well-being”.

The 21-year-old American follows four-time grand slam winner Naomi Osaka in doing likewise. Osaka announced she was taking time away from the sport after the 2021 French Open and has been vocal about her long bouts of depression, writing a candid article about the issue in Time magazine saying “We are often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”

Meanwhile Garbine Muguruza, the former world No.1, is another who has also opted for an extended break. "Spending time with family and friends and it's really been healthy and amazing, so I am going to lengthen this period till summer," the 29-year-old noted, adding further to the belief that the tour can be a toxic environment to inhabit.

Osaka's words were thrown into sharp relief by the terse press conference Emma Radacanu gave with British journalists ahead of the Madrid Open. Eventually, a WTA official was forced to call an end to the 16-question interview in which the British No.1 was asked a number of times about her injured wrist. Was it really any surprise that she retreated into her shell?

Too often, members of the press believe they have ownership of sports stars. It was particularly prevalent when serial irritant Piers Morgan (no relation, thankfully) became embroiled in a spat with Radacanu following her decision to pull out of Wimbledon in 2021 after he said the then 18-year-old needed to “toughen up” and that she “couldn't handle the pressure”. The typically tone-deaf Morgan then claimed credit for Radacanu's win at the US Open a few months later.


It is notable that the No.1 player on tour, Iga Swiatek, has a world renowned sports psychologist as part of her team and since uniting with Daria Abramowicz, Swiatek has been a dominant force racking up three grand slams.

Abramowicz has her own explanation for why she thinks so many players might be struggling; perceptions of people who seek help for their mental problems is still an issue in wider society.

“Psychology (in general) is stigmatised. Seeking psychologists for help concerns the whole society and not only the sports environment,” said Abramowicz, who also has some thought-provoking reasons for why tennis is so unique and why players might struggle to adapt to life on tour.

“Tennis is extremely closely connected to business,” she says. “It’s one of these sports [where] the business aspect is really important and it’s extremely relevant for people to understand how to connect these two areas. The other is that the high-performance level is kind of unique. Travelling across the world for eight to nine months per year and you have to go to all these places every single year for sometimes 15 or even 20 years. It’s extremely challenging - how to be yourself in it and how to keep the social support system and how to enjoy all that for so many years.”

And while a sports psychologist might not necessarily work for everyone, Swiatek is in no doubt as to the importance of Abramowicz in her life.

“She just made me smarter. I know more about sports and I know more about psychology and I can understand my own feelings and I can say them out loud,” she has said in the past.

It can only be hoped that Anisimova finds similar peace during her period of absence.