Tennis star Naomi Osaka has been under pressure from the French Open recently for refusing to do mandatory media appearances ahead of the tournament. But in the face of threats to be removed, she has made a surprising decision.
On Monday, Osaka announced that she is withdrawing from the French Open. The reigning U.S. Open and Australian Open champion cited an ongoing battle with depression as a reason she doesn’t want to do media interviews.
Earlier this weekend, she was fined $15,000 and threatened with expulsion if she did not participate in media interviews. This was her answer.
“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 said in a statement. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.”
Naomi Osaka apologized to any journalists she may have offended by refusing to do media interviews. But she also admitted that she feels the media rules are “quite outdated in parts.”
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
Naomi Osaka defeated Jennifer Brady at the Australian Open in February to claim her fourth Grand Slam title in the last four years and second Australian Open title. This past September she won her second U.S. Open with a win over Victoria Azarenka.
Osaka is currently the No. 2 ranked player in the world behind Ashleigh Barty. But she would have been one of the favorites to win.
Osaka’s career-best at the French Open is the third round in 2016, 2018 and 2019.
She’ll have to wait at least another year to try and claim that third gem in the career Grand Slam.