Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open amid scrutiny over media boycott

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Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open on Monday amid scrutiny over her decision to boycott talking to the media.

Osaka made the announcement on Twitter – one day after she was fined $15,000 for skipping a post-match press conference. She explained her decision in a lengthy statement.

“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 and I accept my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.

“More important I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly. The truth is that I 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 I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at tournaments will notice tht I’m often wearing headphones as they helps dulls my social anxiety.

“Though tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize 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 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 I announced it pre-emptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.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 apologizing 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 way 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 playoffs, press and fans.

“Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, I love you guys I’ll see you when I see you.”

Last week, Osaka started a firestorm when she said she was going to skip the press conferences around the French Open. She cited mental health concerns as a reason for her decision.

Tournament organizers said Osaka was fined for failing to “honor her contractual media obligations.” The four-time Grand Slam tournament winner addressed the fine in a tweet after her 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over 63rd-ranked Patricia Maria Tig.

“Anger is a lack of understanding,” Osaka tweeted. “Change makes people uncomfortable.”

Each of the four Grand Slam tournaments released a joint statement threatening to default her for violating the players’ Code of Conduct rules.

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