May 31, 2021 - Sports

Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open after refusing to do press conferences

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka. Photo: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Naomi Osaka, the world's No. 2 tennis star, announced Monday she was withdrawing from the French Open amid controversy over her decision to not participate in press conferences at the tournament.

The big picture: Osaka announced last week that she would skip the news conferences, saying, "I've often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one." She was fined $15,000 by Roland Garros on Sunday for declining to participate in a mandatory news conference.

What she's saying: "This isn't a situation I ever imagined or intended 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 withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris," Osaka wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

  • "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," she added.
  • "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."
  • "Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize 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."
  • "So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences."
"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 these better for the players, press and fans."

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