Tennis great 'so sad' over Naomi Osaka's withdrawal from French Open
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After tennis star Naomi Osaka announced on Monday that she would withdraw from the French Open amid scrutiny over her decision to boycott talking to the media, many current and former athletes shared their thoughts on Osaka’s decision.
Martina Navratilova, an 18-time singles Grand Slam winner, supported Osaka in a tweet saying, “we are all pulling for you!”
“I am so sad about Naomi Osaka. I truly hope she will be ok,” Navratilova wrote. “As athletes we are taught to take care of our body, and perhaps the mental & emotional aspect gets short shrift. This is about more than doing or not doing a press conference. Good luck Naomi.”
Following Osaka’s announcement, French Open organizers released a statement saying that it’s “unfortunate” that she withdrew from Roland-Garros, but they “wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery.”
“First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi 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,” the statement read. “As all the Grand Slams, the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, we remain very committed to all athletes’ well-being and to continually improving every aspect of players’ experience in our Tournament, including with the Media, like we have always strived to do.”
Osaka made the decision to withdraw from the French Open after she was fined $15,000 for skipping a post-match press conference. She explained her decision in a lengthy statement.
“This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago,” Osaka wrote. “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 my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.
“More important I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly. The truth is that I 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 tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety.
“Though tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize 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 engage and give you the best answers I can.”
Osaka continued: “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. I’m gonna take some time way from the 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 playoffs, press and fans.
“Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, I love you guys I’ll see you when I see you.”
Last week, Osaka announced she was going to skip the press conferences following matches at the French Open. She said mental health concerns were the reason for her decision.
Tournament organizers said Osaka was fined for failing to “honor her contractual media obligations.” The four-time Grand Slam tournament winner addressed the fine in a tweet after her 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over 63rd-ranked Patricia Maria Tig.
“Anger is a lack of understanding,” Osaka tweeted at the time. “Change makes people uncomfortable.”
Each of the four Grand Slam tournaments released a joint statement threatening to default her for violating the players’ Code of Conduct rules.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.
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