Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open amid row over press conferences

During the Roland Garros tournament, Osaka, aged 23, who had issued a statement on the previous Wednesday expressing her intention to forego her media responsibilities, emerged victorious in her initial match against Patricia Maria Tig and was slated to compete against Ana Bogdan in the next round. Osaka pointed to the impact of her engagements with the media on her psychological well-being as the rationale behind her choice.

Osaka announced her withdrawal from the tournament in a statement on Monday, explaining that she was stepping away so that the attention and extensive discussion could once again be directed towards tennis.

When I posted a few days ago on social media, I never imagined or intended this situation where everyone can withdraw from the tournament and focus on their well-being, which I think is the best thing right now for me and the other players.

I never wanted to be a distraction, and the timing of my message was not ideal. I could have been clearer, and most importantly, I would never trivialize mental health. I would never use the term lightly or trivialize mental health.

Osaka stated that she anticipated receiving a fine in her initial declaration, and Gilles Moretton, the president of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), mentioned on Thursday that his association would impose sanctions on Osaka.

Following Osaka’s first-round victory on Sunday, the four grand slam tournaments issued a lengthy statement without providing any official response to the organization. The press obligations that have caused her anxiety, along with the possibility of facing severe penalties or taking risks, have been criticized as an excessive reaction, highlighting their authoritarian treatment of Osaka. The potential consequences of defaulting and the additional attention that Osaka has garnered were only further emphasized by the announcement of her fine.

On Thursday evening, Osaka Mari attempted to support her older sister by posting about her struggles in the context of her frequent questioning of her ability on clay, saying that she had been hurt by her sister’s frequent questioning of her ability on clay and her “bad record on clay”.

Serena Williams, the four-time grand slam champion, revealed that she has suffered from long bouts of depression since her controversial first win at the US Open 2018, which led to significant media attention and queries.

Osaka stated that wearing headphones often helps dull my social anxiety, and anyone who knows me knows that I’m introverted and has seen me at tournaments.

Osaka concluded her statement by saying “I suffer from huge waves of anxiety” and announced preemptively that she wanted to skip press conferences because she feels that rules like the outdated ones highlighting parts in the media make her feel anxious and vulnerable. She thought it would be better to focus on self-care and exercise, especially since she was already feeling anxious and vulnerable here in Paris.

Osaka has received support from numerous public figures since her announcement. “Stay strong. I admire your vulnerability,” wrote Coco Gauff in response.

Twitter recently acknowledged King Jean Billie’s statement about Naomi Osaka’s courageous revelation regarding her struggle with depression. It is crucial that we respect her need for time and space. We also sincerely wish her well.

Martina Navratilova expressed her heartfelt wishes, stating: “I feel really sorry for Naomi Osaka. I genuinely hope she will be fine.

We are all lucky for you pulling through, Naomi. This press conference is not just about doing or not doing, but rather about doing more. As athletes, we are taught to take care of our emotional and mental aspects, as well as our bodies, perhaps through short shrift.

Naomi Osaka deserves kudos for caring so much about others and herself, even as she tries to make a better situation for herself by allowing herself to start healing and taking care of herself, despite how brutal this solution may seem.

After Osaka’s announcement, Moretton held a press conference where he delivered a statement in both French and English, describing Osaka’s withdrawal as “unfortunate” and expressing his well wishes for her speedy recovery. Two hours later, he departed without taking any questions from the media.