Naomi Osaka has dropped out of the French Open one day after officials threatened to expel her from the tournament if she continued to refuse to speak to the media after her matches.
The tennis star took to Instagram to say that she will not participate in the French Open and that she has been suffering from periods of depression. “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. I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” Osaka wrote.
“More importantly I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly,” she added. “The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.”
Last week, Osaka posted on social media that she would opt out of all press conferences during the tournament to protect her mental health. “If the organizations think they can keep saying, ‘Do press or you’re going to get fined,’ and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are the centerpiece of their cooperation, then I just gotta laugh,” the four-time Grand Slam tournament winner wrote.
She also said that she would accept any fines that were issued to her for skipping the news conferences and asked that the funds be donated to a mental health charity.
On Sunday (May 30), Osaka was hit with a $15,000 fine after she refused to speak with reporters following her match against Patricia Maria Tig. The Grand Slam organizers released a statement saying that she could face bigger fines and expulsions if she continued to neglect her media duties.
“We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences… As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions, including default from the tournament and the trigger of a major offense investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions,” the statement read.