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Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open following press conference controversy

Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open following press conference controversy

The four-time Grand Slam champion has chosen to leave the competition after opening up about her mental health struggles. 

Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open following press conference controversy

23-year-old tennis star Naomi Osaka has announced she will withdraw from the French Open. The announcement comes after her controversial decision to not speak to media during the tournament after her victory in the first round on Sunday, which saw her fined US$15,000.

Osaka says she chose to skip the press conference because she was suffering from anxiety and “thought it was better to exercise self-care.”

“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,” she shared on social media.

“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” Osaka added. “More importantly, I would never trivialise mental health or use the term lightly.”

Osaka went on to reveal she has been struggling with mental health issues for the past three years.

“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.”

Osaka said that while she respects the competition, players and journalists, she did want to highlight rules which she sees as “quite outdated.”

“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.”

In a statement shared by Roland Garros, French Tennis Federation President Gilles Moretton said the organisation is “sorry and sad” for Osaka. “The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland-Garros is unfortunate. We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery, and we look forward to having Naomi at our Tournament next year.”

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