Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the ongoing French Open after the fallout of her decision of not do press conferences during the tournament.
The world no.2 player announced her decision in a Twitter post, saying she hopes the focus returns to the tournament now that she's pulled out.
"This isn't a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. 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 trivialize mental health or use the term lightly," she added.
Osaka’s agent, Stuart Duguid, confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that the world’s No. 2-ranked tennis player was pulling out before her second-round match at the clay-court tournament in Paris.
The stunning move came a day after Osaka, a 23-year-old who was born in Japan and moved with her family to the U.S. at age 3, was fined $15,000 for skipping the postmatch news conference after her first-round victory at the French Open. She also was threatened by all four Grand Slam tournaments with possible additional punishment, including disqualification or suspension, if she continued with her intention — which Osaka revealed last week on Twitter — to not “do any press during Roland Garros.”
Osaka has been vocal about her struggles with mental health and addressed that in her announcement.
"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 apologize 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," she wrote.
"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 I announced it preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.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 away 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 players, press and fans," she added.
(With inputs from AP)
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