Written by Staff Writer
(CNN) — In July, tennis champion Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark will become the latest athlete to do something truly innovative.
When she advances to the final of the event in Zurich, she’ll be making a bold financial contribution to World Mental Health Day, an initiative to prevent and end the stigma surrounding mental health.
The award amounts vary according to the individual’s ranking on the WTA tour — in her case, Wozniacki is ranked 16th in the world — and she’ll donate $50,000 of the prize money to World Mental Health Day.
‘Dangerously low rates’
“In the past I have said that I felt very lucky in that I have friends and family who have always been there for me to support me in the best and worst times — which are often the same — and that I have never been on my own,” Wozniacki says.
“However, I can’t tell you how concerned I feel for all the other people out there who feel that they don’t have that support.
“What’s missing, sadly, in the sporting world is that sort of structure. In theory the system in place in sports is great, but in reality most athletes don’t stay fit and healthy.
“Wimbledon has done a fantastic job in encouraging tennis players to have conversation with their loved ones about mental health in an effort to help raise awareness about it, which is great, but it seems a world away from other sports like football and cricket, which have been taking this issue seriously for the past few years.”
“In the US, there are extremely dangerous and high rates of suicide among young football players,” added former tennis player Wendy Turnbull who led the campaign.
“The combination of an unrelenting physical load that builds up and no room for recovery; a potentially toxic environment for young men when they come to adulthood; and a culture of secrecy, have been linked to the high rates of depression and suicide amongst young footballers in the US.
“We want other sporting stars to follow Caroline’s lead and show the support and compassion for people struggling with mental health issues that these young men are missing from their life off the pitch.”
The full breakdown of prizes for the final of the WTA Grand Prix in Zurich is: $66,500 — Caroline Wozniacki, $19,500 — Ashleigh Barty, $12,000 — Dominika Cibulkova and $5,000 — Agnieszka Radwanska.
Several sporting personalities have been recently involved in other charity initiatives — goalkeeper Tim Howard of the US national team was presented with an Inspiration Award at the ESPYs in June, while Great Britain’s Andy Murray won Wimbledon in 2017 as World Mental Health Day drew to a close.