Photo by Rob Keating via Wikimedia Commons
Naomi Osaka announced Monday that she was withdrawing from the French Open, The New York Times reports.
Last Wednesday, May 26, Osaka announced that she would not be participating in post-match press conferences to protect her mental health. Tournament officials fined her $15,000 after her announcement. Leaders from the Grand Slam tournaments — the Australian, French and United States Opens, and Wimbledon — threatened her with expulsion if she continued to ignore her press duties.
On Monday, Osaka announced her withdrawal from the French Open on social media. She apologized for being “a distraction,” saying her withdrawal would be best for her mental health and the tournament.
Osaka explained that she’s struggled with “long bouts of depressions since the US Open in 2018.” She credited the tennis press for always being kind to her but expressed that participating in press conferences still triggers her anxiety.
“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,” Osaka explained.
Osaka’s colleagues, sponsors and friends have expressed support for the tennis star. After winning her first-round match, Serena Williams was asked about Osaka’s withdrawal.
“The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi,” Williams said, according to Buzzfeed News. “I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like. I’ve been in those positions.”
Nike, the sportswear brand that signed with Osaka in 2019, also expressed their support.
“Our thoughts are with Naomi. We support her and recognize her courage in sharing her own mental health experience,” Nike said, according to CNN.
Grand Slam tournament leaders said they had reached out to Osaka to discuss her concerns, The New York Times reports. They claim she was not willing to engage with them.
French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton held a press conference following Osaka’s announcement, according to The Guardian. He called her withdrawal “unfortunate” and wished her a speedy recovery. He left the press conference without answering any questions.
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