Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open

Naomi Osaka with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup. (Photo: David Gray/AFP/Getty Images)

Two-time U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open.

The 23-year-old tennis star’s decision comes a week after she said she would not be speaking with the media during the annual Grand Slam event in Paris.

She was fined $15,000 for this, a possible expulsion, and harsher disciplinary measures.

She shared news of her withdrawal from the event via Twitter.

“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 others players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” she tweeted.

“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” she added.

Osaka said she’s been battling with depression and anxiety since 2018, and cited that as the reason for her decision.

Mental health

“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 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,” Osaka wrote. “Though the tennis press always has 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 I announced it preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that. 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.”

She ended her post by saying she’ll be taking a break from the court.

She added; “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.”