Naomi Osaka Withdraws from French Open, Takes Break from Tennis After Media Boycott Backlash

by Chris Haney
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After refusing to attend press conferences at the French Open, star tennis player Naomi Osaka has now withdrawn from the tournament entirely. In a statement, the No. 2 ranked women’s player in the world said she didn’t want to be a distraction in Paris. In addition, she referenced struggling with “long bouts of depression” as to why she’s taking some time away from the game.

Osaka skipped her first-round post-match press conference after defeating Patricia Maria Tig at Roland Garros. After being criticized for her absence, Osaka announced she wouldn’t attend any pressers for the entirety of the tournament. Therefore the French Open and other major tournaments came together and took a hard stance on her decision.

The Australian Open, Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open jointly wrote to Naomi Osaka. In their statement, they addressed her decision to not speak to the media. The organizations said they wanted to “check on her well-being and offer support.” Yet they also drew a firm line in the sand and fined her $15,000. Additionally, they threatened to take further action against the tennis star.

Osaka also released a statement of her own that same day. She said she would not attend any press conferences for the rest of the French Open. She cited the need to take care of her mental health as the reason for her interview refusals. But that led to more criticism and more questions about her status for the rest of the tourney.

Naomi Osaka Opens Up About Her Depression in Statement

Tennis fans and analysts alike have discussed Naomi Osaka’s situation at length in recent days. As the conversation continued, many wondered how the situation would play out. On Monday, Osaka officially withdrew from the French Open so the attention would return to the tennis being played in Paris.

“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,” Naomi Osaka wrote. “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 trivialize 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,” she added.

In addition to Osaka addressing her depression, she also apologized to journalists. She said the tennis press has always been kind to her. And that she especially wanted to apologize “to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt.” She explained that she has never been a natural public speaker and she often gets anxiety when speaking at big events.

Performing on a tennis court in front of thousands of fans, and millions more watching at home, is one thing. But speaking to reporters from all over the world is a much different obstacle than one’s opponent on the court. For now, Naomi Osaka has decided to take a break from tennis altogether. With Wimbledon coming up in late June, it’ll be interesting to see if she returns for arguably the most prestigious event in all of tennis.

Outsider.com