Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open amid controversy for skipping a post-match news conferences, she announced on social media.
Osaka posted a message on her Twitter account saying she didn’t want to be a distraction from the tournament.
She also wrote that she has “suffered long bouts of depression” since the 2018 U.S. Open, which she won by beating Serena Williams in a final filled with controversy.
“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can go back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” she said.
Osaka was set to play Romania’s Ana Bogdan in the second round tomorrow.
“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialise mental health or use the term lightly. The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really tough time coping with that,” she said.
“Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety,” she went on.
“Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologise especially to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt), I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media. I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can.
“So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences. I announced it pre-emptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that. I wrote privately to the tournament apologising and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the Slams are intense. I’m gonna take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss wats we can make things better for players, press and fans.”
Osaka was fined US$15,000 for skipping a post-match news conference after her first-round victory Monday — and was threatened by all four Grand Slam tournaments with stiffer penalties, including being defaulted, if she continued to avoid meeting with the media.
The fine will come out of Osaka’s prize money and was announced in a joint statement from the president of the French tennis federation, Gilles Moretton, and the heads of the other majors.
“We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations, she would be exposing herself to possible further code of conduct infringement consequences,” said a statement from the four Grand Slam tournaments after issuing the world No.2 with a US$15,000 ($21,000) fine.
“As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions.”
Osaka returned to Roland Garros after skipping the trip last time, turning in a mistake-filled 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over 63rd-ranked Patricia Maria Tig at Court Philippe Chatrier on Day 1 in Paris.
More to come…
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