In recent months, much has been said about some of our favorite female athletes. But now, just a few weeks ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Time Magazine has provided the perfect platform to allow these transcendent women to speak on their own behalf.
In this special issue, we’re also treated to four different covers spotlighting Olympic athletes Naomi Osaka, track-and-field superstar Allyson Felix, WNBA legend Sue Bird, and Paralympic triathlete Susana Rodríguez. In May, Osaka withdrew from the French Open citing her need to prioritize her mental health. And now, courtesy of a personal essay in this issue of Time, she explains her rationale behind that decision and why sports are in dire need of change.
“I felt under a great amount of pressure to disclose my symptoms—frankly because the press and the tournament did not believe me,” she writes. “I also do not want to have to engage in scrutiny of my personal medical history ever again. So I ask the press for some level of privacy and empathy next time we meet. [...] I do hope that people can relate and understand it’s ok to not be ok; and it’s ok to talk about it.”
Much like Osaka, 2019 The Root 100 honoree Allyson Felix not only gets her own cover but shares her thoughts about her journey to what will be her final Olympics. She touches on the sacrifices she had to make during her pregnancy, the International Olympic Committee’s decision to prohibit protests, and speaks out against Nike; who famously stopped sponsoring her over its maternity policy.
“Nike sometimes, they feel like you don’t have another option,” Felix says. “So they can get away with stuff like that because, where are you going to go? And I think that’s how I was always perceived: ‘She’s never going to say anything. She’s never going to speak out.’”
Shoutout to each of these ladies for being so transparent in addressing the challenges that come with being a Black woman in professional sports. You can read the rest of Osaka’s essay and Felix’s interview in the latest issue of Time Magazine.