(PARIS) — Tennis star Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open saying she does not want to be a distraction.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
She wrote that since the 2018 US Open final she has been suffering from long bouts of depression and that she has social anxiety. Speaking to the media makes her nervous since she is not a natural public speaker and gives her ‘waves of anxiety’ beforehand.
“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 wrote.
The 2018 US Open final was against Serena Williams.
After the match, Williams hugged Osaka, but the newly crowned U.S. Open champion sat down and cried quietly.
During the trophy presentation, the crowd booed Osaka causing her to cry again.
Williams came to Osaka’s defense when she spoke on the court during the trophy presentation.
“Well I don’t want to be rude but I don’t want to do questions. She played well,” Williams said, referring to Osaka. “This is her first grand slam. I know you guys were rooting … let’s not boo anymore … congratulations Naomi … I hope to play here again.”
Osaka acknowledged that she was not the fan favorite and that “everyone was cheering for” Williams.
“I’m sorry it had to end like this,” she said. “I just want to say thank you for watching the match … it was always my dream to play Serena at the U.S. Open finals … I am grateful. Thank you.”
Last Wednesday, Osaka, the number two seed, said she would not be speaking to the media at the French Open for her mental health.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 26, 2021
Osaka was fined $15,000 on Sunday for not fulfilling her contractual obligations by not speaking to the media.
In a joint letter from the heads of the French Open, Australian Open, US Open, and Wimbledon, the four said the ruling was a matter of fairness.
“We want to underline that rules are in place to ensure all players are treated exactly the same, no matter their stature, beliefs or achievement,” said the letter. “As a sport there is nothing more important than ensuring no player has an unfair advantage over another, which unfortunately is the case in this situation if one player refuses to dedicate time to participate in media commitments while the others all honour their commitments.”
The tournament’s told Osaka that if she continued to refuse to speak to the media she could face tougher sanctions, including a default from the tournament, and a major offense investigation that could lead to larger fines and possible suspensions from future Grand Slams.
Osaka defeated Patricia Maria Tig 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the first round.
She was set to face Ana Bogdan on Tuesday in the second round.
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