Naomi Osaka withdraws from the French Open to focus on her mental health

·2-min read
Photo credit: TPN - Getty Images
Photo credit: TPN - Getty Images

Naomi Osaka has announced her decision to pull out of the French Open, citing her journey with depression and anxiety.

“Hey everyone, this isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter and Instagram on Monday. “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 and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialise mental health or use the term lightly.”

She continued: “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. I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can.”

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Last Wednesday, she shared her decision not to do any press during the tournament, saying the media’s handling of questions is harmful to mental health and that they have a habit of “kicking a person while they’re down.”

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Osaka was fined $15,000 (around £10,570) after not appearing at a press conference.

“Naomi Osaka today chose not to honour her contractual media obligations. The Roland-Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 fine, in keeping with article III H. of the Code of Conduct,” the four Grand Slam tournaments said Sunday in a joint statement, according to CBS.

The 23-year-old reigning U.S. and Australian Open champion said in her statement last week that she hoped the “considerable amount she was forced to pay would go toward a mental health charity.”

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