Naomi Osaka says she will withdraw from Roland Garros

Tennis star Naomi Osaka, whose statement last week that she would be spending press conferences at Roland Garros in order to protect her sanity sparked heated debate over whether the usual media obligations of athletes after the competition adversely affect their emotional well-being, said Monday she would. withdraw from the prestigious tournament in Paris.

Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam singles champion who represents Japan and lives in Los Angeles, also said in a statement on Twitter and Instagram that she had suffered from long bouts of depression since winning the US Open in 2018 “and I had a hard time dealing with it.” She was amazed that her decision to avoid press conferences had become a major topic of discussion and added: “I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I get away from it all. withdraws so everyone can come back to focusing on the tennis taking place in Paris.

Officials from all four Grand Slam tennis tournaments – the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open – had issued a statement that she was at risk of an escalating fine. or be banned from tournaments if it continued to defy regulations that require players. to appear at post-match press conferences. She was fined $ 15,000 for skipping a press conference after her first-round victory over Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday, though she then did a brief on-field TV interview.

Osaka is one of the brightest and most influential stars in the sport and has a portfolio of sponsorships and sponsorships including jeans, luxury items and a contract with Japanese TV channel WOWOW. She is a megastar in Japan, where she was born and lived until the age of 3, when her family moved to the United States. His social activism for Black Lives Matter and his participation in protest marches also raised his profile.

His decision to skip press conferences prompted comments from other athletes – including No.1-ranked Ash Barty and 13-time Roland Garros winner Rafael Nadal – who said they respect his feelings but thought answer questions. and promoting the tournaments was just part of their obligation.

Osaka did not perform as well on the clay courts at Roland Garros as they did on hard courts. She never made it past the third round of Roland Garros. Her older sister Mari, in a separate Instagram post, hinted that Naomi’s struggles came from an unidentified family member who told her she was not as good on clay as she was on others. surfaces, which raised doubts in Naomi’s mind about her abilities to succeed.

Naomi Osaka said she wished she had been clearer in her initial statement and did not intend to downplay the impact of mental health issues.

“Hey, everyone, this isn’t a situation I ever imagined or wanted 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 am stepping back so that everyone can focus on the tennis that takes place in Paris, ”she wrote.

“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and that my message could have been clearer. Most importantly, I would never trivialize sanity or use the term lightly. The truth is, I have suffered from long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and have had a hard time coping with them. Anyone who knows me knows I’m an introvert, and anyone who’s seen me at tournaments will notice that I wear headphones a lot because it alleviates my social anxiety.

“While the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I want to apologize especially to all the cool journalists I’ve hurt), I’m not a natural public speaker and I get huge waves of anxiety before speaking to media around the world. I am very nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best possible answers. So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious, so I thought it was best to be careful and avoid press conferences. I announced it preemptively because I have the impression that the rules are sometimes quite outdated and I wanted to underline it. I wrote privately to the tournament to apologize and say I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the Slams are intense.

“I’m going to step away from the sport now, but when the time comes I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways to improve things for the players, the press and the fans. Anyway I hope you all are well and stay safe, I love you guys, I will see you when I see you (heartbreak).

Osaka, the No.2 seed, was due to face Ana Bogdan on Wednesday in the second round.

Teenage sensation Coco Gauff, No. 24 seed at Roland Garros, tweeted her support for Osaka. “Stay strong (heart). I admire your vulnerability, ”Gauff said.

Gilles Morreton, president of the French Tennis Federation, issued a statement in which he wished Osaka good luck.

“First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka. The result of Naomi’s withdrawal from Roland Garros is unfortunate, ”the statement said. “We wish her the best and the fastest possible recovery, and we look forward to welcoming Naomi to our tournament next year.”

He said that like the Women’s Tennis Assn., L’Assn. tennis professionals and the International Tennis Federation, the French Open remains “very committed to the well-being of all athletes and to continually improving every aspect of the players’ experience in our Tournament, including with media, as we have always tried to do. “

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