Haitian-Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open on Monday and wrote on Twitter that she would be taking a break from the competition after a post-match interview saga.
The stunning move came a day after Osaka, a 23-year-old born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother, was fined $15,000 for skipping the postmatch news conference after her first-round victory at the French Open. Tennis players are required to attend news conferences if requested to do so.
She also was threatened by all four Grand Slam tournaments with possible additional punishment, including disqualification or suspension, if she continued with her intention — which Osaka revealed last week on Twitter — to not “do any press during Roland Garros.”
In Monday’s post, Naomi Osaka also spoke about dealing with depression since the 2018 U.S. Open, which she won by beating Serena Williams in a final filled with controversy.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
“I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly,” Osaka wrote.
She said speaking with the media makes her anxious.
“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 my message could have been clearer.”
She continued: “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. … I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media.”
“Here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences,” she wrote.