Naomi Osaka withdraws from Berlin, Wimbledon participation in doubt

Naomi Osaka at 2019 Wimbledon
Naomi Osaka at 2019 Wimbledon

World No. 2 Naomi Osaka has officially withdrawn from the bett1open scheduled to begin on June 14 in Berlin. The grasscourt tournament was expected to be Osaka's tune-up event ahead of this year's Wimbledon.

The move has cast doubt over Osaka's participation in the grasscourt Major. There are a couple more events after the bett1open (Hamburg & Eastbourne), but those end just a day before Wimbledon begins and are unlikely to be feasible options for the Japanese.

The organizers of the grasscourt event in Berlin revealed that Osaka had informed them of her withdrawal.

"We have received notification Naomi Osaka cannot start in Berlin. After consulting her management, she will take a break," event organizers said in a statement ahead of the tournament.

Naomi Osaka's decision to withdraw from Berlin is not a surprise

Naomi Osaka at the 2021 French Open
Naomi Osaka at the 2021 French Open

Naomi Osaka sent shockwaves through the tennis world when she announced she would be boycotting press conferences at Roland Garros in a bid to safeguard her mental health.

The Japanese's move was met with widespread criticism, and she also received a $15,000 fine from the French Tennis Federation for failing to show up for her press conference after her first-round win over Patricia Maria Tig.

Roland Garros and the other Grand Slams released a joint-statement warning Naomi Osaka of a potential default should she continue to forego her media obligations.

This prompted the four-time Slam champion to withdraw from the claycourt Major ahead of her second-round match against Ana Bogdan. Naomi Osaka also revealed she had been suffering from depression since late 2018.

"Hey everyone, this isn't a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago," Naomi Osaka wrote on Twitter. "I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well­being 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," she added. "More importantly I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly. 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."

In the aftermath of Osaka's withdrawal, the four Slams issued another statement, offering their support to the Japanese and other players battling mental health problems.

Naomi Osaka further added that she was going to take some time off from the sport. She also said she planned to work with the tour in the future to find a solution to the mental health problems faced by players.

"I'm gonna take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans," she concluded.

As things stand, her chances of playing at Wimbledon look pretty slim.

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