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Naomi Osaka Withdraws From French Open

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Naomi
? ANDREW SCHWARTZ/SPLASH NEWS/UNCRAZED COMPOSITE

Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open following ongoing criticism of her decision not to speak to the press.

Osaka announced her decision to avoid all press just days before her first match at Roland-Garros 2021. She cited her mental health as the reason for the decision.

After winning her first match on Sunday, Osaka followed through with her statement and avoided any post-match press conferences. Subsequently, she received a $15,000 fine for not fulfilling her contractual obligations.

The four Grand Slam tournaments issued a joint statement which urged Osaka to reconsider her stance. The statement also warned that she could face further action, including but not limited to exclusion from future tournaments.

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Now, Osaka has announced she is withdrawing from the tournament completely.

“This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago”, the four-time Grand Slam champion explained on Twitter. “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. 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.”

“I’m gonna take some time away from the court,” Osaka added. “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.”

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Many athletes and prominent figures have shared their support online.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared Osaka’s most recent post under the caption: “Proud of you.”

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“Stay strong. I admire your vulnerability.” Wrote American tennis player, Coco Gauff.

“Let’s boycott the French Open.” Added actress and presenter, Jameela Jamil. “Naomi is the most exciting player anyway. Imagine punishing someone for having anxiety… in 2021.”

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