The fourth round of the US Open singles match took place on Sunday, when Davis Cup captain and former tennis star Mardy Fish sat in a car sobbing with his wife Stacy nine years ago in New York. I remembered. , And with her help, he decided he couldn’t play in the fourth round with Roger Federer.
“It’s just crazy anxiety, crazy, crazy, how do you get out of this court?” He said on the phone from his home in Los Angeles. “But if my wife wasn’t with me, and I wasn’t playing, I would never have bothered my head. We never had a weakness on the other side of the court. He is trained not to show and to show fear, but his wife says, “Well, you don’t have to play.” That part immediately felt better, as if the weight had been lifted from the shoulders. “
Fish is now 39 years old and is Stacy’s parent with two young children. He works in finance and is involved in professional tennis as captain of the Davis Cup in the United States. However, he is also a mentor and shares his experience as a prominent athlete who had to deal with mental health issues when approaching taboo in professional sports.
“The reason I’m talking so loudly about it now, or being open, is because I didn’t have a success story to rely on when I was experiencing it,” he said.
He is friendly with Naomi Osaka and her agent Stuart Dugit, who will take an indefinite break from the game when Osaka announces in tears on Friday after her third defeat at the US Open. Scheduled and she will win.
“I tell her, I’ll do anything to make you happy,” Fish said. “She doesn’t have to hit another tennis ball for the rest of her life. If it makes her happy, that’s what she should do. I think she’ll regret it, but it’s happy she wakes up in the morning Whatever you want to be, and no matter what she’s been doing for the past two months, or how long it’s been going on, she’s not doing it for her right now. If you go, she will find peace and comfort. “
After leaving New York, the fish spent months staying home with repeated anxiety attacks. He received treatment and medication.
After playing intermittently on the tour, he returned to the US Open in 2015 and won the round. It’s the bright closure he wanted and is part of the journey he shares in a documentary released as part of Netflix’s “Untold” series on Tuesday.
“Education is really the most important thing,” Fish said. “Trying to reach people who have never understood or have problems with mental health, or those around them who have problems with mental health. Educate them and Naomi Osaka talks to the media. To understand that I’m not going to withdraw from the French Open just because I don’t want to, and Simone Byles isn’t going to the Olympics just because I don’t want to lose. People who think about it, and they It’s just a shame that there are so many. “
One of the important things for fish is to stop thinking about mental health separately from physical health.
“It’s just health,” Fish said. “They call it mental health, but your brain is part of your body. You’re injured. You can’t see it.”
Long regarded as one of the most talented players of his time, Fish improved his fitness and broke through in 2011 to reach the Top 10 and compete in the eight-man Tour Championship. bottom. But his rise also created new expectations and stress, he said.
“My life got better at first, but then only my body and brain couldn’t handle it the way I was put together,” he said.
In 2012, he began to experience a racing heartbeat that awakened him at midnight and was diagnosed with a type of arrhythmia. He was treated for this condition, but the underlying problem was anxiety disorder, playing tennis was a haven, but panicked during his third victory over Gilles Simon at the 2012 US Open. I started to experience it.
“It seems that my only comfort was taken from me that night, which basically put me on the bottom of the rock and left no serotonin in my brain,” he said.
“It’s not about being tough. I’m practicing kickboxing and Muay Thai now. You can hit me with every face you want, and I’ll hit you back. I’ll hit you back. Train something like that. It’s not that it’s weak. I was mentally strong. I was a bulldog. I would have sacrificed anything to win. I would give my competitiveness It’s higher than anyone else. It’s not about it. It’s actually the opposite. In my opinion, it shows weaknesses and its vulnerabilities actually show strength. “
During the US Open, Fish worked as a mentor as part of a new initiative of the United States Tennis Association, providing more mental health resources to players, including on-call psychologists. The program is overseen by Claudia Riadon, a new USTA mental health consultant.
“Athletes who talk about the use of mental health resources and the fight against mental health symptoms and disabilities offer great service to all sports in terms of straightening and normalizing their experience,” Riadon said in an interview. Stated. “Being mentally ill is incompatible with high-level sports. In fact, asking for help is a sign of strength.”
Fish said no player had contacted him during the tournament yet, but he said “tons of people” had contacted him since he began talking openly about his condition.
“People who have heard. People who have never heard,” he said. “Tennis and other sports coaches and players. I’m really happy to be able to help you that way. Thanks to that I’ve had a great relationship so I’m not alone and other people are to the world I was comforted to know that I wanted to be vulnerable, not. “
Osaka, like Fish, has taken a more open approach and revealed this year that it has suffered from anxiety and depression since winning its first Grand Slam singles title at the 2018 US Open. At this year’s pre-opening roundtable, she, Fish, Nick Kyrgios, and Billie Jean King talked about several topics, including mental health and media affairs.
Osaka talked about her desire to focus on the positives of being a world-class player before and during the opening, but she lost to Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez on Friday. Suffering from emotions. She threw a racket, frustratedly knocked the ball on the stand, and tore it at a press conference. She said she didn’t know when to play the next tennis match.
“Recently, when I win, I don’t feel happy,” she said. “I feel more relieved, and I feel very sad when I lose, and I don’t think it’s normal.”
The fish were watching and listening.
“She was really open at that last press conference,” he said. “I think it’s really important to put yourself first. What you feel is important to you, what makes you happy, and hopefully tennis is for her It’s there. That’s right. I know she understands her position in history. But now the out-of-court is more than a win or loss. That’s a shame. That being said, it’s important to make sure she feels comfortable and happy again. “