Celebrated tennis player Roger Federer is concerned about how social media and the press is handling sports personalities, especially those in tennis.
He says that much needs to be done to get things back on track adding that there is a lot of hostility and negativity coming from both mediums of dissemination.
For instance, Federer cites the negativity projected on U.S Open 2021 reigning champion Briton Emma Raducanu.
During the SW19 last -16 where she faced off with Ajla Tomljanovic, Raducanu developed breathing difficulties and retired.
Her decision to retire attracted bile not just from social media but sports commentators among them Piers Morgan and John McEnroe. It was a low moment for her and no one thought she would bounce back at the US. Open 2021.
In another instance, Japanese star player Naomi Osaka is a recipient of social media and press bile. Osaka pulled off from the French Open and the Wimbledon citing her mental health was at stake.
This attracted sharp criticism further sinking her into a bout of depression. After a bruising knockoff from the Open in New York, Osaka announced an indefinite break from tennis.
Osaka said she needs to focus on her mental health which is clearly on a spiral since Wimbledon and the French Open.
According to Federer, these are not the only two high-profile players affected by the contempt on social media and some members of the press.
No Social Media
He says in contrast to his formative days when social media did not exist, life was bearable.
For the first ten years that he played tennis, he only had a website. He would deal with his losses better compared to now when social media has a huge say in it all.
Speaking to GQ, he said that “The first ten years of my life there was no social media… then the next ten years social media was everywhere.”
He adds: “I was following Emma Raducanu’s incredible run in Wimbledon and also Naomi Osaka these last few years – it’s been amazing, both of their stories.
“But it hurts when you see what happens and when they don’t feel well. The stress is so great. And I think a lot has to be down to social media.”
“For every ten nice comments there’s always one negative comment and, of course, that is the one you focus on. It’s a horrible situation.”
Handling Social Media Criticism
The World No. 9 player says that time to correct these wrongs is now calling for more harmony between reporters and players.
Federer maintains that improved relationship by both parties is the first step to chart a better path for players to handle tennis stress better.
The Swiss player terms this the needed ‘revolution’ in the tennis world lest players continue wallowing in this misery.
“I think players, the tournaments, journalists, we need to sit down together in a room and go, ‘OK, what would work for you and what works for us? We need a revolution…”
Such an approach will go a long way in addressing stressful pitfalls that younger players like Raducanu and Osaka are exposed to.
Further, Federer says he is not sure if he would have handled the social media bashing when starting out.
Nevertheless, he gave wonderful insight into an issue driving a lot of tennis players’ bananas. Especially Twitter users are so unforgiving.
So, the next time you think of bashing a player, practice the “pause”. Because an insensitive comment does a lot of harm.