Japan’s Star Player Naomi Osaka stunned the Tennis World on Monday by withdrawing from the French Open after deciding to boycott post-match media duties, explaining she had been suffering from depression for almost three years.
In a social media post, Osaka, the highest-earning female athlete on the planet who had earlier announced she wouldn’t be addressing the press conference at Roland Garros, said, ” I think 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 added, ” 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”
Osaka who is a four-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 ranked player, had declared that she would not speak to the media during Roland Garros and was fined 15,000 by Grand Slam organizers for failing to attend her media duties following her first-round win.
Osaka claimed on the eve of Roland Garros that post-match conferences were akin to ‘kicking people when they are down and that they had a detrimental effect on her mental health.
‘I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer, the four-time Grand Slam title winner said in her statement.
Osaka, one of the biggest names in women’s sport went on to say that she had suffered from depression since 2018.
‘The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I had a really hard time coping with that’ she said.
“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.”
Lastly, Osaka said that she will take some time away from the court now, and when the time is right she would want to work with the Tour to discuss ways in which things can be made better for the players, press, and fans.