Naomi Osaka exits second tournament amid mental health break
"I never wanted to be a distraction," the tennis star expressed in an Instagram post
Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the Berlin WTA 5000 tournament — amid her mental health break.
The move comes weeks after she pulled out of the French Open to get her depression and social anxiety in check.
“We have received notification Naomi Osaka cannot start in Berlin. After consulting her management, she will take a break,” Berlin event organizers said in a statement, as reported by Entertainment Tonight.
Osaka, 23, made headlines last month when she announced she would not be speaking to the media at the French Open. She was fined $15K at the event for skipping a post-match news conference after her first-round victory — and threatened by all four Grand Slam tournaments with stiffer penalties, including being defaulted, if she continues to avoid meeting with the media, theGRIO reported.
The fine was announced in a joint statement from the president of the French tennis federation, Gilles Moretton, and the heads of the other majors.
The statement said Osaka has been “advised” 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.”
Citing the rule book, the statement notes that “tougher sanctions” from “repeat violations” could include default — being disqualified from the tournament — and “the trigger of a major offense investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions.”
Shortly after the announcement, Osaka withdrew from the tournament.
“Hey everyone, this isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. 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 shared in a statement at the time.
“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,” she continued.
“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,” she added.
Osaka said not participating in press conferences was an act of “self-care.”
“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,” she explained. “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.”
As of now, Osaka is expected to participate in Wimbledon which starts on June 28.
This story contains additional reporting from The Associated Press.