Monday, 18 October, 2021


Naomi Osaka: French Open withdrawal statement in full

Naomi Osaka got a fine and risks the ban from the Roland Garros Home Tennis News Tennis Interviews
Hannah Rogers | 01 June, 2021, 02:56

Naomi Osaka was fined $15,000 by Grand Slam organisers for skipping a news conference following her first-round win at the French Open on Sunday, and was also warned of possible expulsion from Roland Garros and future majors if she fails to meet her media commitments.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the four-time Grand Slam victor said that she did not intend to be a distraction from the tournament, and believes it's in her best interests - as well as those of the other players - for her to step back. In announcing her withdrawal from the tournament, Osaka apologised to any members of the press that may have been upset by her decision.

Osaka, in a lengthy statement, said she "never wanted to be a distraction" and that her withdrawal is "the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being".

"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 boring my social anxiety".

French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton had described Osaka's vow of silence as "a phenomenal error". "We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences".

Osaka, one of the biggest name's in women's sport, went on to say she had suffered from depression since 2018. Before the French Open began, she announced that she would not do "any press" during the tournament, citing the need to preserve her "mental health" by avoiding repetitive and potentially negative questions from journalists.

"The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi", she said.

"I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal", she said, but added she "would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly".

The French Open and its clay surface have always been a hurdle for Osaka, who has never been alone in that dynamic.

Osaka is in her prime as a player and quickly becoming the face of women's tennis, with her huge skill set on the court and the 39-year-old Serena Williams in the twilight of her career.

She had said last week on social media she would not speak to the media and kept that promise.

The four Grand Slams released a statement on Sunday, condemning her actions and threatening repercussions.

Tennis players are required to attend news conferences if requested to do so.

In addition, just this past week, it was revealed that for the second year in a row, Osaka was the highest-paid female athlete in the world, pulling in $55 million in 2020. "We have invested significant resources, staffing and educational tools in this area for the past 20-plus years and continue to develop our mental health support system for the betterment of the athletes and the organization".

The announcement prompted support from 17-year-old American Coco Gauff, who tweeted in response: "I admire your vulnerability" and told Osaka to "stay strong".

Osaka's sister Mari attempted to explain more about her sibling's stance with a post on the website Reddit, highlighting her feelings of vulnerability on clay, but then deleted her words and replaced them with an apology, saying she felt she had made things worse.

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