Elite tennis player Naomi Osaka is prioritizing her health over the sport she loves.
Osaka had been fined $15,000 following an opening-round tennis match in the French Open, which she won. She was fined for failing to attend the post-match press conference. Had she continued no-showing pressers, she would’ve been at risk for more fines and possible disqualification.
Osaka won’t have to worry about further penalties, however, as she’s decided to withdraw from the French Open. In a statement, Osaka apologized as she didn’t intend for her no-show to gain the attention that it did. She explained that she’s currently suffering from depression and social anxiety. Osaka also made it clear that she has nothing against the media.
Gilles Moretton, president of the French Open, said that the well-being of athletes is a top priority. He said there is a commitment to improving how the players are treated during the tournament. Officials for the French Open also chimed in, saying they are “sad and sorry” that Osaka will no longer be participating in the tournament.
Osaka says that she’s been struggling with mental health issues since the 2018 US Open. She says she’s always been introverted and she often wears headphones at tournaments in an effort to ease her social anxiety. Osaka also made it clear that she’s always been treated well by the tennis press but since she was never a natural speaker, talking to a room full of people with cameras constantly flashing only made her anxiety worse.
Osaka admits that she’s often nervous when speaking to the media as she’s always trying to say the right thing. In addition, Osaka said she feels some of the rules laid out for athletes by the French Open are antiquated. She hopes to one day discuss this with the higher-ups of the tournament and possibly reach an understanding in order to change things.
In terms of what she could’ve done better, Osaka admitted that her decision to walk away didn’t come at an ideal time. She also feels she could’ve made her message more clear before releasing her statement. She also said that she is in no way taking mental health lightly or using it as an excuse.