Naomi Osaka has announced her withdrawal from the French Open following controversy over her media boycott.
The world No 2 says she plans to “take some time away from the court”. Osaka won her opening match against Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday but her decision not to take part in press conferences or interviews has been the biggest talking point of the tournament so far.
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Organisers reacted strongly to Osaka’s move, releasing a joint statement on Sunday that threatened her with potential disqualification and a ban from future tournaments should she not reconsider. She was also fined £10k for skipping media duties following victory over Tig and faced over £100k in punishments, depending on her progress at Roland Garros.
Why has Osaka withdrawn?
“Hey everyone, this isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago,” Osaka wrote on Twitter on Monday evening. “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.”
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The 23-year-oldsaid she had suffered bouts of depression since winning her first slam in 2018 and that press conferences often triggered anxiety.
“I never wanted to be be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” she continued. “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.
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Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologise 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.”
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