Naomi Osaka says she will retire from the French Open and announced on social media on Monday that she will be “taking some time off” the day after graduation Fine and threats of tougher sanctions for skipping their mandatory media duties.
Osaka said in a long statement that they “never wanted to be distracting” and that their withdrawal is “best for the tournament, the other players and my well-being”.
Osaka’s agent Stuart Duguid confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that the world’s number 2 tennis player is pulling out before her second round match at the clay court in Paris.
A spokeswoman for the tournament said the French Open was not aware of Osaka’s withdrawal.
“I think the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being now is that I step back so everyone can focus on tennis again in Paris,” wrote Osaka. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing wasn’t ideal and that the message could have been clearer.”
Osaka, 23, also announced that she has struggled with depression and anxiety since winning her first major at the 2018 US Open, explaining that talking to the media often makes her nervous. She apologized to all media representatives who influenced her with her decision.
“I’m not a natural speaker and I get waves of fear before speaking to the world’s media,” she said. “I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to get involved and give [the media] the best answers I can. “
– NaomiOsaka 大 坂 な お み (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
The four-time major champion and number 2 at this clay court grand slam announced on Wednesday that she would not be attending a press conference during the tournament and cited her mental health as a motivation for the decision.
Osaka’s announcement sparked much debate in the tennis and sports worlds and other players, especially the 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal and No. 1 rank Ash Barty, stated that they respect Osaka’s right to take a stand, but stated that they consider speaking to reporters part of their job. She was fined $ 15,000 for missing her post-game press conference on Sunday following her win against Patricia Maria Tig.
In addition to Sunday’s fine, Osaka drew a surprising warning at all four Grand Slam tournaments that she could face harsher penalties, including disqualification or even suspension, if she continued to avoid the media.
Osaka, which was planned next Ana Bogdan in the second round on Wednesday said she hopes to have a conversation with WTA officials upon her return.
“I really want to work with the tour to discuss how we can make things better for the players, the press and the fans,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.