In an unexpected turn of events, World No. 2 Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the 2021 French Open. Osaka, who was due to play her second-round match against Ana Bogdan on Wednesday, revealed on Monday that she has been suffering from depression since the 2018 US Open.
Naomi Osaka had announced last week that she would be skipping all her media commitments at Roland Garros this year in a bid to safeguard her mental health. But not a lot was known about her issues at that point of time, and so many attacked the Japanese for failing to fulfil her contractual media obligations.
But Naomi Osaka took to Twitter on Monday to announce her withdrawal from the claycourt Major, asserting how she does not want to become a "distraction". She also admitted that the timing of her previous statement was not "ideal", but asserted that she never intended to triviliaze the issue of mental health.
"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."
The World No. 2 further wrote that she suffers from social anxiety, which is why she can often be seen wearing headphones and avoiding human interaction. Naomi Osaka also issued an apology to some of the journalists she likes, and explained how anxiety played a big role in her decision to boycott press conferences.
"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," Osaka wrote. "Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize especially to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt)."
"I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world's media," she added. "I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can. So 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."
"I'm gonna take some time away from the court now" - Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka went on to reveal that she plans to take some time away from tennis, but didn't give a specific date for her return. Osaka also stressed that she wants to work with the tour to find a way to cater to the mental well-being of all parties involved.
"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.
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