Naomi Osaka Withdraws from French Open

FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne, Australia, January 18, 2018. Naomi Osaka of Japan hits a shot against Elena Vesnina of Russia. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open, announcing Monday on social media that she will “take some time away from the court” one day after she was fined and threatened with harsher sanctions for skipping her mandatory media obligations.

Osaka, in a lengthy statement, said she “never wanted to be a distraction” and that her withdrawal is “the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being.”

“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 wrote. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and message could have been clearer.”

Gilles Moretton, the president of the French Tennis Federation, read a brief statement to the media on Monday following Osaka’s withdrawal but did not take any follow-up questions.

“First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka,” Moretton said. “The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland Garros is unfortunate. We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery and we look forward to having Naomi in our tournament next year. As all the Grand Slams, the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, we remain very committed to all athletes’ well-being and to continually improving all aspects of players experience in our tournaments including with the media like we have always tried to do.”

Osaka, 23, also revealed that she has experienced depression and anxiety since winning her first major at the 2018 US Open and explained that speaking to the media often makes her nervous. She apologized to any media members she had impacted with her decision.

“I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media,” she said. “I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try and engage and give [the media] the best answers I can.”

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