Japanese tennis ace Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open due to “huge waves of anxiety.”
Osaka announced her withdrawal from Roland Garros a day after she was fined $15,000 by the French Open and warned that she could face expulsion from the tournament, following her decision not to speak with the press during the tournament.
Osaka, 23, who won her first match against Patricia Maria Tig, was scheduled to face Ana Bogdan in the second round. She released a statement last Wednesday stating her intention to skip her media obligations during Roland Garros because of the affect of interacting with the press on her mental health.
“This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago,” Osaka wrote on social media, “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.”
In her original statement, Osaka said she expected to be fined. The French Tennis Federation (FFT) President Gilles Moretton, has stated that his organisation would penalise Osaka, after which she was fined $15,000.
The organisation has not given an official response to the fine, despite Osaka’s statement, explaining her anxiety. Their heavy-handed approach to Osaka has been criticised as a disproportionate response by many, saying that Osaka should not be penalised for putting her mental health first. The attention Osaka received after her statement has been compounded by the announcement of her fine and possible default.
In her withdrawal statement, the four-time grand slam champion said she has suffered from “long bouts of depression” since the 2018 US Open final. Osaka defeated Serena Williams then to win her first grand slam title in a controversial match that similarly led to significant attention and queries from the media.
“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,” Osaka wrote.
Osaka explained in her statement, saying she suffers “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking with the media. “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,” she wrote.
“I’ll see you when I see you,” concluded Naomi.
Osaka has received support from numerous public figures since her announcement.