World number two Naomi Osaka says she will withdraw from the French Open as a result of the controversy over her refusal to speak to the media during the tournament. On Sunday, a joint statement from the Grand Slam organizers said Osaka could face expulsion from the tournament. The 23-year-old said last week that she would not hold press conferences at Roland Garros to protect her mental health. She said Monday that she “never wanted to be a distraction” to the event.
Osaka revealed that she had “suffered long bouts of depression” since she won her first Grand Slam title in 2018. The Japanese, a four-time winner of major awards, added that she feels “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to the world’s media. Osaka said he was going to “take time off the pitch now,” adding: “When the time is right, I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, the press and the players. fanatics. ”
When Osaka announced her decision to avoid the press on Wednesday, she said that waiting for players to answer questions after a loss was tantamount to “kicking a person while they are on the ground.” The second-seeded French Open won her first match against Romanian Patricia Maria Tig in straight sets and was fined $ 15,000 (£ 10,570) for failing to do post-match media.
“A situation I never imagined”: Osaka statement in full
“This is not a situation that I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. I think that now the best thing for the tournament, for the other players and for my well-being is that I retire so that everyone can get back to concentrating on the tennis that takes place in Paris.
“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my moment 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 it has been very difficult for me to deal with it. “Anyone who knows me knows that I am an introvert and anyone who has seen me at tournaments will notice that I often wear headphones as it helps to calm my social anxiety.” “Although the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I want to apologize to all the great journalists I may have hurt), I am not a natural public speaker and feel great waves of anxiety before speaking to the world’s media.
“I get very nervous and find it stressful to always try to get involved and give you the best answers I can. “So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious, so I thought it best to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences. I announced it pre-emptively because I feel like the rules are pretty outdated in places 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 going to take some time off 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, the press and the fans.” The story so far
Many athletes, both in and outside of tennis, applauded Osaka’s stance after he announced it on Wednesday, although many said that speaking to the media is “part of the job.”
Grand Slam rules state that players can be fined up to $ 20,000 (£ 14,160) for failing to fulfill their obligations to the media, and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) says that players “have a responsibility to their sport. and his fans “from talking to the media during competitions. After her victory over Tig, Osaka participated in the usual on-court interview with the winner. Later on Sunday, the organizers of the four Grand Slam issued a joint statement saying Osaka could face “more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions” for her decision.
The Grand Slams added that following the Osaka announcement on Wednesday, Roland Garro’s teams had asked him to reconsider her position and were unsuccessful in their attempts to verify her well-being. After a “lack of commitment” from Osaka, the Grand Slam organizers wrote to offer support, as well as to “remind him of her obligations” from her. In response, the two-time Australian Open champion tweeted: “Anger is a lack of understanding. The change makes people uncomfortable ”. The next day, Osaka announced her decision to withdraw from the tournament entirely.