Naomi Osaka pulls out of French Open 2021: I never wanted to be a distraction

Naomi Osaka pulls out of French Open 2021: I never wanted to be a distraction


Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka shocked the entire tennis fraternity on Monday night as she pulled out of the French Open 2021 in Paris after facing flak from all quarters for boycotting the media at Roland Garros.

The Japanese world number 2 had defeated Romanian Patricia Maria Tig 6-4 7-6(4) in the women’s singles first round on Sunday and was fined $15,000 for failing to show up for the post-match press conference.

Osaka said before the French Open that she would not participate in the mandatory media interviews after her matches at Roland Garros, citing mental health concerns. The board of Grand Slam tournaments even tried to engage with Osaka to understand a bit more about her stance but the highest paid female athlete in the world refused to cooperate with them.

Osaka was scheduled to face another Romanian, Ana Bogdan, in the second round on June 2.

OSAKA’S STATEMENT

The 23-year-old released a statement on Twitter announcing her decision to quit the tournament.

“Hey everyone, 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.

“I never wanted to be a distraction. 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.

“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 that I’m introverted, and anyone that’s seen me at 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 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. I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can.

“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 announced it pre-emptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.

“I wrote privately to the tournament apologising and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the Slams are intense. 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 things better for the players, press and fans. Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, love you guys. I’ll see you when I see you.”





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