Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open due to mental health

Osaka's decision comes after she declared she would not speak to the media and was fined $15,000

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Naomi Osaka wrote on Twitter on Monday that “the best thing for the tournament” would be if she withdrew from the French Open, a dramatic turn of events for the four-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1-ranked player.

Naomi Osaka, theGrio.com
Naomi Osaka of Japan looks on in her First Round match against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania during Day One of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on May 30, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

She had declared she would not speak to the media during Roland Garros and was fined $15,000 after she skipped the postmatch news conference following her first-round victory Sunday.

Read More: Naomi Osaka wins, fined $15K for skipping French Open press conference

“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,” Osaka wrote Monday.

She also said that she has “suffered long bouts of depression” since the 2018 U.S. Open, which she won by beating Serena Williams in a final filled with controversy.

In addition to Sunday’s fine during Day 1 of the French Open, she drew a surprising warning from all four Grand Slam tournaments that she could face stiffer penalties, including disqualification or even suspension, if she continues to avoid the media.

Osaka returned to Roland Garros after sitting out the tournament last year and turned in a mistake-filled 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over 63rd-ranked Patricia Maria Tig at Court Philippe Chatrier on Day 1.

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

Hours later, Osaka turned to her preferred method of communication these days, tweeting: “anger is a lack of understanding. change makes people uncomfortable.”

Read More: Naomi Osaka cites mental health for not doing press at 2021 French Open

Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts during her match against Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic during their match at the Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul White)

Tennis players are required to attend news conferences if requested to do so. The maximum fine, of course, is not a big deal to Osaka, the world’s highest-earning female athlete thanks to endorsement contracts totaling tens of millions of dollars.

She framed the matter as a mental health issue, saying that it can create self-doubt to have to answer questions after a loss.

Other players, notably 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal and No. 1-ranked Ash Barty, have said they respect Osaka’s right to take a stance but explained that they consider speaking to reporters part of the job.

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