Four-time Grand Slam tennis winner Naomi Osaka was withdrawn from the French Open 2021 after she was fined for refusing to attend post-game press conferences.
She wrote on social media that she has been suffering from depression since 2018 and has social anxiety. She admitted that the timing of her press boycott was bad and the best thing to do is withdraw from Roland Garros this year so everyone can concentrate on the tournament.
She said that she will work with Grand Slam organizers when the tournament is over regarding player’s mental health issues.
She wrote on Instagram:
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 withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris. never wanted to be a distraction and 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 a hard time coping with that. Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the 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 was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences. I announced it preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.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 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 see you
As someone who suffers from anxiety, I understand why Naomi would do this. No tournament is bigger than one’s personal mental health survival. I really hope something good comes out of this.
Stay strong Naomi!