Naomi Osaka Withdraws from French Open After Skipping Press, Says She Deals with Depression
Last week, Naomi Osaka announced that she wouldn't be doing post-match interviews during the French Open in an effort to preserve her mental health
Naomi Osaka is walking away from the 2021 French Open.
After being fined for not participating in post-match interviews during the Grand Slam tournament last week, Osaka announced that she would withdraw from the Open in a message on Instagram, Monday.
"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," Osaka, 23, wrote. "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."
Ahead of the tennis tournament's start, Osaka announced she wouldn't be doing press during the championship in an effort to preserve her mental health. On Sunday, Osaka picked up her first win and a $15,000 fine for not participating in media requirements.
The board of Grand Slam tennis tournaments also released a statement on Sunday, warning that she could face possible expulsion in the future. The joint statement from the French Open as well as the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and Australian Open said that "following this announcement, the Roland-Garros teams asked her to reconsider her position and tried unsuccessfully to speak with her to check on her well-being, understand the specifics of her issue, and what might be done to address it on site. She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them, and that rules should equally apply to all players."
In her Monday statement, Osaka said that she has suffered from depression since 2018, and had a "really hard time coping with that."
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"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," continued the tennis phenom. "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."
She said that she was feeling both vulnerable and anxious while in Paris for the French Open, so thought the decision to skip press conferences was best for her "self-care." She said that she still does feel that the rules regarding Grand Slam tournaments are "outdated."
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Osaka wrote to her followers: "I wrote privately to the tournament apologizing 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 he 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."
She concluded her message by telling tennis fans she loves them, and promised, "I'll see you when I see you."
If you or someone you know need mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.