Updated: June 1, 2021 1:48:42 pm
Naomi Osaka, the world number two, announced that she is withdrawing from the French Open, and will spend an unspecified amount of time away from court.
Days before the event, on Thursday, she posted a message on social media claiming that she will boycott the mandatory post-match press conferences, citing mental health as her reason. Grand Slam rules however dictate that a player skipping the press conferences could be fined up to USD 20,000, and repeated infractions could even result in a default.
Osaka has copped criticism and praise for her stance, and was fined USD 15,000 for skipping the conference after her first-round win on Sunday. On Monday however, she took to social media to announce that she’s withdrawing from the French Open.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
“Hey everyone, 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 well-being 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 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 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 apologize 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 I announced it pre-emptively because I do feel lie the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that. I wrote privately to the tournament apologizing 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 ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans. Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, love you guys I’ll see you when I see you.”
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