Tennis star Naomi Osaka quits French Open citing mental health concerns
Updated: 2021-06-01 09:58:48 KST
Women's tennis star Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open on Monday, local time, after last week refusing to participate in press events, citing mental health concerns.
A day before on Sunday, the four-time Grand Slam champion was fined 15-thousand U.S. dollars by Roland Garros and warned she could be disqualified for skipping media obligations.
In a statement on Monday, Osaka said she would quit so as not to distract others involved, and revealed her bouts with depression and social anxiety throughout her career.
She also emphasized she would "never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly".
Osaka's struggle has gained support from athletes around the world, including tennis legends Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, who said "As athletes, we are taught to take care of our body, and perhaps the mental and emotional aspect gets the short shrift."
Serena Williams also stood by Osaka's side.
"The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi. I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it's like. Like I said, I've been in those positions. We have different personalities, and people are different."
But some of Osaka's contemporaries had questioned her decision not to speak with reporters.
2019 French Open champion Ashleigh Barty said pressers are part of the job and that tennis players know what they sign up for as professionals.
The Roland Garros organizers had previously called Osaka's decision a phenomenal mistake but have since backtracked, wishing the 23 year-old a swift recovery.
"First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka. The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland Garros is unfortunate. We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery and we look forward to having Naomi in our tournament next year."
Had she not forfeited, Osaka was due to face Romania's Ana Bogdan in the second round.
Han Seong-woo, Arirang News.