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20th June 2021

Naomi Osaka Withdraws From Ongoing French Open

Naomi Osaka Withdraws From Ongoing French Open
Naomi Osaka Withdraws From Ongoing French Open

Naomi Osaka withdraws from the ongoing French Open, a few days after she was fined for refusing to appear for the traditional news conference during the tournament.

Naomi Osaka who has vowed not to do any news conferences at the tournament to protect her mental health, said she is withdrawing from the French Open as a result of controversy over her refusal to speak to the media during the tournament.

On Sunday a joint statement from Grand Slam organisers said Osaka could face expulsion from the tournament.

She said on Monday she “never wanted to be a distraction” to the event.

In a tweet, Osaka revealed she had “suffered long bouts of depression” since winning her first Grand Slam title in 2018.

The Japanese four-time major winner added that she gets “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to the world’s media.

Osaka said she was going to “take some time away from the court now”, adding: “When the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans”.

When Osaka announced her decision to avoid the press on Wednesday, she said expecting players to answer questions after a defeat amounted to “kicking a person while they’re down”.

The French Open second seed won her opening match against Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig in straight sets and was fined $15,000 (£10,570) for not doing post-match media.

Naomi Osaka withdraws from the tournament with this statement:

“This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my wellbeing is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.

“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept 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 I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.

“Anyone that knows me knows I am introverted and anyone that has seen me at tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety.

“Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I want to apologise 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 preemptively 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 going to take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans.”

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