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Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open after media boycott controversy

Naomi Osaka

“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.”

Naomi Osaka has announced her withdrawal from the French Open amid controversy over her media boycott.

Osaka made headlines last week when she revealed that she would refuse to speak to the press in Paris, citing mental health reasons.

The world number two won her first-round match against Patricia Maria Tig 6-4, 7-6 (4), after which she was fined $15,000 for her media boycott.

Osaka was threatened with expulsion from the tournament if she continued her boycott but, on Monday evening, the 23-year-old announced that she would withdraw and take a break from tennis entirely.

“This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago,” Osaka tweeted in a statement.

“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 trivialise 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.

Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open

“Anyone that knows me knows that I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at 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 apologise 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.

Naomi Osaka French Open

“So here in Paris, I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so 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“I announced it preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.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 apologising 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.”

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