Lewis Hamilton offers words of support for Naomi Osaka

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Ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton had words of support for tennis star Naomi Osaka, who pulled out of the French Open due to issues with the media.

The 23-year-old tennis star pulled out of the French Open due to the controversy that was created when she decided not to fulfil her media obligations, citing mental health issues.

Hamiton said he understands Osaka’s position, as he faced similar problems early in his career.

“The fact is, when you’re young and you’re thrown into the limelight it weighs heavily and most of us are not prepared,” said the Briton.

“I remember when I got to Formula 1 and the team [McLaren] had PR, [but] I was never prepared for being thrown in front of the camera.

“I was never guided as to what to look out for, or helped to navigate through that. You just kind of learn through mistakes.

“And it was incredibly nerve-wracking, especially when you have all good intentions and people take advantage of it. So, I think she was incredibly brave.

“I applaud her for her bravery because I think it’s now asking those in power and making them think about how they react because I think the way they reacted was not good, with the fine.

“Someone talking about their personal mental health and then be fined for it, that isn’t cool. They could have definitely handled that better I’m sure.

“But I hope they take a deep dive into it and find a better way to navigate the future.

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“I’ve learned the hard way, made many a mistake and I still do today. It can be daunting still, standing behind a camera, it’s not the easiest, particularly if you’re an introvert.

“I am trying to continue to learn how I engage but as I said, when I was young I was thrown into the pit and I wasn’t given any guidance or support.

“What I do know is when youngsters are coming in they’re facing the same things as I did and I think we need to be supporting them more.

“It shouldn’t be a case when you’re pressured. There are scenarios where, because you speak up, like Naomi’s scenario, she didn’t feel comfortable for her own personal health not to do something and the backlash is ridiculous.

“People are not taking into account that she’s a human being and she’s saying ‘I’m not well enough to do this right now’ and I think that needs to be really looked into, as to how people react to that and be supporting and uplifting to her,” concluded Hamilton.

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