The world is in a state of shock today, as the all-American teenager Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open earlier this week. The 19-year-old Osaka is one of the world’s top players, ranked number one in the world just a few months ago, and she was expected to be an easy contender for the title at Roland Garros. But, the recent controversy over whether or not she should be obliged to talk to the media after her win at the US Open has rocked the tennis world.

When Naomi Osaka won her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last month, it was a pleasant surprise to tennis fans. The 20-year-old’s victory was particularly unexpected: she had been ranked outside the top 100 just two years earlier, and had not performed well in her two previous Major tournament appearances (in both, she lost in the first round).

Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the Open French tennis championships. She announced Monday on social media that she would be off the field for a day after being threatened with a fine and harsher penalties for missing mandatory media appearances. Osaka said in a lengthy statement that she never wanted the distraction and that her withdrawal from the tournament was the best decision for the tournament, the other players and my well-being. I think at the moment it’s better for the tournament, the other players and my well-being if I take some time off so everyone can come back and focus on tennis in Paris, Osaka wrote. I never wanted to be a distraction, and I accept that my timing was not ideal and that the message could have been clearer. Gilles Moretton, president of the French Tennis Federation, read a brief statement to the media on Monday after Osaka’s withdrawal but did not answer further questions. First of all, we are very sorry for Naomi Osaka, Moretton said. The result of Naomi’s withdrawal from Roland Garros is sad. We wish her all the best and a speedy recovery and hope to see Naomi at our tournament again next year. As with all Grand Slam tournaments, the WTA, ATP and ITF, we remain committed to the welfare of all athletes and are constantly working to improve all aspects of the playing experience at our tournaments, including the way we treat the media, as we have always tried to do. Osaka, 23, also revealed that she felt depressed and anxious after winning her first major at the 2018 US Open, explaining that dealing with the media often makes her nervous. She apologized to members of the media who were influenced by her decision. I am not a natural speaker and I get huge waves of anxiety before I address the world’s media, she said. I’m very nervous and I find it stressful to always try to respond and give [the media] the best answers I can. – NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021 This statement was supported by Coco Gauf, a 17-year-old American, who responded on Twitter: I admire your vulnerability and advised Osaka to stay strong. Martina Navratilova, 18-time Grand Slam champion, tweeted that she felt sorry for Naomi Osaka, adding that perhaps the mental and emotional aspect was not taken into account enough. Navratilova also tweeted that Osaka had tried to make things better for herself and others, but that she had unwittingly made them worse. And thanks to Naomi Osaka for caring so much about the other players. In her attempt to make the situation better for herself and others, she unintentionally made it worse. Hopefully this decision, a suspension, however severe, will allow her to begin to heal and take care of herself. – Martina Navratilova (@Martina) May 31, 2021 Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry tweeted that it was impressive and paid great respect to Osaka for choosing the high road when the powers-that-be don’t protect their own. You should never make such decisions – but it’s pretty awesome when the powerful don’t protect their own. much respect @naomiosaka – Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) May 31, 2021 Osaka, a four-time winner and No. 2 at the Grand Slam, announced Wednesday that she would not participate in press conferences during the tournament due to her mental health. word-image-18735 word-image-18736 1 Connected Later on Sunday, the WTA issued a statement in an email to the Associated Press. Mental health and awareness are a top priority for the WTA, tour officials said. Over the past 20 years, we have invested significant resources, personnel and training funds in this area and continue to develop our mental health system to improve the athletes and the organization. We will continue to support and assist Naomi as much as possible, and we hope that she can return to the field soon. Osaka’s statement has caused much controversy in the tennis and sports world. Other players, including 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal and No. 1 seed Ash Barty, said they respected Osaka’s right to take a stand but considered talking to reporters part of their job. Osaka was fined $15,000 for missing the press conference after her win over Patricia Maria Teague on Sunday. In addition to Sunday’s fine, Osaka received a surprise warning from the four Grand Slam tournaments that more severe penalties awaited her, including disqualification or even suspension, if she continued to avoid the media. Osaka, who was due to face Ana Bogdan in the second round on Wednesday, said she hoped to speak to WTA officials on her return. I really want to work with the tour to discuss how we can improve things for the players, the press and the fans, she said. Osaka has never advanced beyond the third round at the French Open on red clay. To win a Grand Slam title, she needs seven wins, which she has already won four times in hardcourt tournaments: US Open in 2018 and 2020, Australian Open in 2019 and in February. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did Naomi Osaka withdraw from French Open?

This year’s French Open has been anything but a relaxing experience for Naomi Osaka. The #1 seeded player withdrew from the event on Monday after being targeted by torrent of criticism for accepting an invitation to a media event at the end of the tournament. The two-time Grand Slam winner has been criticized for taking on additional obligations that conflicted with her busy tennis schedule. Naomi Osaka, the 20-year-old from Japan who is the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam title when she defeated Serena Williams in the US Open final in September, has withdrawn from the French Open. Early reports said the decision was due to her impending French Open commitments, however the reason for the withdrawal was later revealed to be a sense of profound disappointment. In a statement announcing her withdrawal, Osaka said, “I just pray I can take some time away from the sport.”

Who withdrew from French Open?

It was a tough day for Naomi Osaka on Sunday, June 10th. The 20-year-old reached the fourth round of the French Open women’s tennis tournament after defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-2. She was expected to have a fairytale finish, but the last-minute withdrawal of her opponent, Elina Svitolina, changed the course of Osaka’s destiny. Tennis’ grand slam event, the French Open, kicks off this weekend. But not everyone can make it to Roland Garros. The list of those who have withdrawn from the event is extensive and includes Naomi Osaka, the Japanese player who won the last major in the sport and became the first Asian athlete to reach the final.


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