June 20, 2021

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Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open – Al Jazeera English

3 min read

The four-time Grand Slam champion had said she would not face the press during the French Open, citing mental health reasons.

Japan’s tennis player Naomi Osaka has said she is withdrawing from the French Open following the bitter fallout from her decision to boycott all media activity.

On Sunday, the former world number one was warned she could be thrown out of the French Open if she continues to boycott post-match news conferences at the tournament.

“The best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” the world number two wrote on Twitter on Monday.

She was also fined $15,000 by Grand Slam organisers for failing to attend a news conference following her first-round win.

Earlier this week, the four-time Grand Slam champion said she would not face the press during the French Open, citing mental health reasons.

“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” she said last week.

In her Twitter post on Monday, she said she “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’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.

“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’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 ways we can
make things better for the players, press and fans.”

Osaka said she has also apologised to organisers over the affair which has dominated the early stages of the French Open ever since she warned last week.

French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton has described her vow of silence as “a phenomenal error”.

The four Grand Slam events – Wimbledon, the French, Australian and US Opens – said they had written to Osaka “to check on her well-being and offer support”.

“She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them and that rules should equally apply to all players.”

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