PARIS, June 1
Japan’s Naomi Osaka stunned the tennis world by withdrawing from the French Open after deciding to boycott post-match media duties, explaining she had been suffering from depression for almost three years.
Osaka said in the build-up to the tournament that she would not attend the obligatory press conferences for players after matches, saying the questioning by journalists impacts her mental well-being.
The four-time Grand Slam champion made good on her threat on Sunday when, after winning her first round match, she did not hold a press conference.
She was fined $15,000 by the Roland Garros referee, and Grand Slam organisers later issued a strongly worded statement warning of possible expulsion from the French Open and future Majors if she failed to change her stance.
On Monday, the world No. 2 decided to take matters into her own hands to end the stand-off. “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,” the 23-year-old Osaka said on Twitter.
Osaka, one of the biggest names in women’s sport, went on to say she had suffered from depression since 2018.
“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,” she said.
After beating Serena Williams to claim her first Major at the 2018 US Open, Osaka was booed by the crowd during the presentation ceremony as her victory was overshadowed by the American’s outburst following a row with the umpire.
Osaka said that since then, she has struggled with being in the spotlight. On Monday, Osaka said she suffers “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to the world’s media.
Williams offered support to Osaka. “The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi. I feel like I wish I could give her a hug,” the 39-year-old American said after her first-round win. “Because I know what it’s like. I’ve been in those positions.” — Reuters
Day 3: Highlights
Rafa Nadal keeps it simple
Rafa Nadal began his title defence in style, beating unseeded Alexei Popyrin 6-3 6-3 7-6(3) in Round 1.
Barty fights through
World No. 1 Ash Barty fought through a hip injury and a tricky opponent in Bernarda Pera with a 6-4 3-6 6-2 victory on her return to the French Open.
Local hope Monfils wins
Local favourite Gael Monfils came back from a set down to beat Spain’s Albert Ramos Vinolas 1-6 7-6(6) 6-4 6-4.
Fifth seed Elina Svitolina found herself trailing 5-2 in the second set but recovered to beat French teenager Oceane Babel 6-2 7-5.
Bopanna in Round 2
India’s Rohan Bopanna and Croatia’s Franko Skugor sailed into the men’s doubles second round at the French Open with a 6-4 6-2 win over Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili and Germany’s Andre Begemann.
Freaky day for Kvitova
Petra Kvitova has withdrawn from the French Open after injuring her ankle in a freak fall while performing her post-match media duties on Sunday, the 11th seeded Czech player said.