USTA launches new mental health initiative ahead of US Open

The United States Tennis Association announced the launch of a new mental health initiative on Tuesday, ahead of the US Open later this month.

Mental health has been the subject of a prevalent and ongoing conversation in professional tennis throughout the summer after world No. 3 and four-time major champion Naomi Osaka shared she had experienced bouts of depression since her 2018 victory at the US Open. She withdrew from the French Open in June ahead of her second-round match and opted to skip Wimbledon.

"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," said Stacey Allaster, the US Open tournament director, in a statement. "Together with the multi-dimensional pressures within professional sport, this new reality highlighted the need to provide additional resources to support all aspects of athletes' health, including their mental health and wellbeing. We look forward to seeing how the initiatives implemented at this year's tournament, and in the coming months, make an impact on player wellbeing, and will continue to look for ways to improve and adapt as we move forward."

The USTA said the initiative would be an extension of their larger medical care plan and part of their partnership with Mount Sinai Health System.

Retired tennis star and former US Open quarterfinalist Mardy Fish, who has been a vocal supporter of Osaka's, will be involved in the efforts.

"As a player and individual that dealt with issues of anxiety on and off the court, I applaud the USTA for providing licensed mental health care providers and services for today's athletes and for taking proactive steps to draw awareness to an issue that has been overlooked in the past," Fish said in a statement. "Mental health struggles are a reality for many individuals, athletes included, and I am comforted to see that moving forward services addressing these issues will be provided in the overall medical plan at the US Open."

The US Open main draw gets underway on Monday, Aug. 30. Osaka is the reigning women's champion.