World No.2 Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from Roland Garros. The reigning Australian Open champion announced her decision Monday on social media.
Before the start of the French Open, Osaka said she would not partake in post-match media during the tournament because of the toll it can take on the players' mental well-being. Osaka won her opening-round match over Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday, 6-4, 7-6(4) and was set to play Ana Bogdan on Wednesday in the second round.
May 31, 2021
"Hey everyone, this isn't a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago,” she wrote. “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.
"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.
In her post, Osaka said she was already feeling anxious.
“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 I announced it preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.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. Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, love you guys I'll see you when I see you."
French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton issued the following statement after Osaka's announcement:
"First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka. The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland Garros is unfortunate. We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery and we look forward to having Naomi in our tournament next year. As all the Grand Slams, the WTA, the ATP, and the ITF, we remain very committed to all the athletes' well-being and to continually improving every aspect of players' experience in our tournaments, including with the media, like we have always strived to do."