Tennis Canada calls a Time Out for mental health

In anticipation of the 2022 National Bank Open, we paired with Tennis Canada to launch an initiative that supports the mental health of professional athletes. Step one? Challenge one of the oldest rules in tennis.

A growing number of high-level athletes are opening up about their struggles with depression, anxiety, and the extreme stress of their professions. Tennis champion Naomi Osaka withdrew from the 2021 French Open after citing mental health concerns. Soon after, Simon Biles sat out of several Olympic events in Tokyo.

It’s time to give athletes a break. The Mental Timeout Project aims to create the safest and healthiest sporting environments possible to ensure that everyone–viewers and athletes alike–can enjoy the beauty of the sport.

Breaking a rule, for wellness

Tennis Canada is striving to implement a modification to the medical timeout rule at all sanctioned events. At present, athletes may only request a time out if they are injured in play. The addition of a “mental timeout” rule will allow them to pause the game if they are under emotional distress, too. While the process is still underway and therefore won’t be in effect at the 2022 Open, the organization hopes to have it in play as soon as possible.

The Mental Timeout project has also released The Positive Court Pledge, available for online signature to the public. The pledge signifies a commitment to the promotion of well-being and resilience both in the court and on the stands.

The Tennis Therapy initiative

For the first time ever, the National Bank Open will feature a number of creative additions dedicated to facilitating wellness for its players. There will be meditation zones, 1:1 access to therapists and social media experts on site, and even a panel discussion focused on mental health in tennis. Tennis Canada even launched a Mental Timeout Playlist curated by notable Canadian celebrities and public figures like Dallas Green, Bryan Adams, and Tessa Virtue.

The Time Out project is just beginning. We’re thrilled to see where it takes the tennis world, and all that it can offer its athletes.

As Bianca Andreescu says: “Every tennis court should be a safe place.”