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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."

Go deeper: Naomi Osaka explains message behind mask names after U.S. Open title win

Go deeper

May 31, 2021 - Sports

Naomi Osaka fined $15k for declining media interviews at French Open

Osaka Naomi at Roland Garros in Paris, France on May 30. Photo: Aurelien Morissard/Xinhua via Getty Images

Naomi Osaka, the world's No. 2 tennis star and highest-paid female athlete, was fined $15,000 by Roland Garros for declining media interviews at the French Open.

The big picture: The 23-year-old "already gives very few individual interviews and has reached a level of celebrity that she can probably maintain through social media, her sponsors and coverage of her matches," the New York Times reports.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: Four people were arrested at the rally, including one person with a gun, one with a knife and two with outstanding warrants, per the U.S. Capitol Police.