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Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open 2021 after media boycott

Japan’s tennis player announced decision on Twitter on Monday evening

SAMAA | - Posted: Jun 1, 2021 | Last Updated: 4 months ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Jun 1, 2021 | Last Updated: 4 months ago

Photo: AFP

Japan’s tennis player Naomi Osaka said on Monday that she is withdrawing from the ongoing French Open following the bitter fall-out from her decision to boycott all media activity at the Grand Slam event.

“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,” the world number two wrote on Twitter.

The 23-year-old Japanese star was fined $15,000 on Sunday and threatened with disqualification after she refused to carry out a mandatory news conference following her first round win.

She claimed on the eve of Roland Garros that such post-match inquests were akin to “kicking people when they are down” and that they had a detrimental effect on her mental health.

“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” the four-time Grand Slam title winner said in her statement. “The truth is I have suffered bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.”

She added: “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 preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite out-dated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.”

Osaka said she has also apologised to organisers over the affair which has dominated the early stages of the French Open ever since she warned last week that she would not carry out any media activity.

French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton has described her vow of silence as “a phenomenal error”.

The four Grand Slam events — Wimbledon, the French, Australian and US Opens — said they had written to Osaka “to check on her well-being and offer support”.

“She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them and that rules should equally apply to all players.”

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