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Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open, prioritizes mental health over mandatory press conference

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Tennis star Naomi Osaka has announced its return from French Open, Following warnings from officials that they would expel her from the tournament if she did not attend the press conference after the mandatory game.

In a statement posted to her social media on Monday, the four-time Grand Slam singles champion wrote that the situation had become something she “never imagined or intended”.

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“I think the best thing to do now for the tournament, the other players and my well being is to step back so everyone can focus on the tennis going on in Paris,” Osaka wrote. “I never wanted to get distracted and I accept that my time was not ideal and my message could be clear.”

Osaka announced her decision not to attend news conferences during the French Open on 26 May, citing the impact of the conferences on her mental health. On Sunday, Osaka won its first match, but was fined $15,000 for not participating in the conference, and tournament officials warned that it could face further consequences.

“We have advised Naomi Osaka that if she continues to ignore her media obligations, she may be exposing herself to the consequences of a possible code of conduct violation,” officials from the four Grand Slam tournaments said in a statement. “As might be expected, repeated violations attract tough sanctions including default from the tournament and the trigger of a major crime investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions.”

Talking about mental health again in her statement on Monday, Osaka wrote that she has been battling depression since 2018.

Osaka wrote, “The truth is that since the US Open in 2018 I have suffered from depression for a long time and I have found it very difficult to deal with.” “Anyone who knows me knows that I’m an introvert, and anyone who’s seen me at tournaments will notice that I often wear headphones because it reduces my social anxiety. Although the tennis press has always been kind to me.” (and I especially want to apologize to all the quiet journalists I’ve hurt), I’m not a natural public speaker and I get huge waves of anxiety before speaking to the world’s media.

Osaka ends her statement by saying that she is “taking some time off the court”, but hopes to work on a solution with the authorities when she returns. “When the time is right I really want to work with the tour so that we can discuss ways to improve things for the players, press and fans.”

After announcing his decision for the first time on Wednesday, Osaka received the support of many Hollywood and sports veterans, including Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin Love, Alex Winter, and Rob Delaney. After withdrawing from the tournament on Monday, Jameela Jamil, Emmanuel Ecko and others wrote words of encouragement in response to their tweets.

“Let’s boycott the French Open. Naomi is the most exciting player anyway. Imagine punishing someone for worrying… in 2021, ”Jamil wrote.

Acho tweeted, “Proud of you for protecting your peace at all costs.”

“The universe blesses and sustains you,” said Black List founder Franklin Leonard.

Director Ava DuVernay wrote, “Take care of yourself like Naomi Osaka,” while Delaney once again added: “Hero. Navigating the press and media is roughly as difficult as taking whatever skills you have to become famous.” Done (unless you got there by nepotism or the #deal) big, big ups for Naomi Osaka.

Read Osaka’s full statement below.

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