Osaka Quits French Open Rather Than Do Interviews

World No. 2 says she'll step away from tennis for a while
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2021 2:30 PM CDT
Osaka Quits French Rather Than Do Interviews
Japan's Naomi Osaka serves the ball to Romania's Patricia Maria Tig during their first round match at the Roland Garros stadium Sunday, May 30, 2021 in Paris.   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

A day after being fined $15,000 for refusing to do interviews, Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open. The tennis star, ranked second in the world, made the announcement Monday in a long Twitter post, NBC reports. "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," she wrote. "I never wanted to be a distraction and accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer." She had announced that she wouldn't do interviews during the Grand Slam tournament to safeguard her mental health. Osaka skipped interviews Sunday after beating Patricia Maria Tig of Romania, then was fined. Tournament officials said the fine was for not meeting her contractual media obligations, per Fox Sports.

Tennis authorities also cited the need for players to be treated equally. Saying that she "would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly," Osaka posted that she has "suffered long bouts of depression." She said the reason she often wears headphones at tournaments is to "dull my social anxiety." Osaka's post said she's taking some time off and plans to discuss the issue with tennis officials. At the tournament's media day last week, other stars didn't criticize Osaka but were confused by her decision or said they would have handled the situation differently, per the New York Times. The interviews are part of the job, they said. "I understand her," Rafael Nadal said, "but in the other hand, for me, without the press, without the people who normally are traveling, who are writing the news and achievements that we are having around the world, probably we will not be the athletes that we are today." (Read more Naomi Osaka stories.)

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