Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has said she is withdrawing from the French Open following the bitter fallout from her decision to boycott all media activity.
The former world number one Osaka said she had suffered bouts of depression since winning her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2018 and that talking to the media triggered anxiety.
Tennis Grand Slam tournament leaders announced Sunday that Osaka would be fined $15,000 for refusing to attend mandatory post-match press conferences at the French Open.
Naomi Osaka had announced her decision last week, citing mental health. She withdrew from the tournament Monday, revealing that she’d battled with depression since the U.S. Open in 2018 and has had “a really hard time coping with that” as well as social anxiety.
Osaka said via her Twitter page: “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.
“I never wanted to be a distraction. 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 that I’m introverted, and anyone that’s 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 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.
“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 I announced it pre-emptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.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. Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, love you guys. I’ll see you when I see you.”