Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open over media boycott controversy
World No 2 says decision 'best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being'
World No 2 Naomi Osaka shocked the tennis world on Monday after withdrawing from the French Open following the fall-out from her decision to boycott all media activities.
"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 announced on Twitter.
Osaka won her opening match of the major against Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday but her decision not to take part in press conferences was the main talking point.
Osaka was fined $15,000 by organisers with the four grand slams reacting strongly, threatening her with potential disqualification and a ban from future tournaments should she not reconsider.
The tennis star said she had suffered bouts of depression after winning her first slam title at the US Open in 2018 and added talking to the media triggered her anxiety.
"I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer," she stated on Twitter. "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.
"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."
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) termed her withdrawal unfortunate.
"We are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka...We wish her the best and quickest possible recovery, and we look forward to having Naomi at our tournament next year," FFT president Gilles Moretton said in a statement.
The Women's Tennis Association said mental health was a priority for the organisation. "We remain here to support and assist Naomi in any way possible and we hope to see her back on the court soon," it added in a statement.
Sofia Kenin said dealing with tennis media's demands was not easy but it is what players signed up for.
"There's expectations from the outside, sponsors and everyone. You just have to somehow manage it. You have to have a good team around you who support you," the American said.
Updated: June 1, 2021 01:13 AM