Naomi Osaka from Japan at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California.
Sean M. Haffey | Getty images
Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open on Monday, writing on Twitter that she would be taking a break from competition, a dramatic turn of events for a four-time Grand Slam champion who also said she had “prolonged depression”.
Osaka’s agent, Stuart Duguid, confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that the world No. 2 tennis player was withdrawing from her second round match at the clay court tournament in Paris.
A spokeswoman for the tournament said the French Open was unaware that Osaka had formally withdrawn from the field.
Osaka had stated that she would not speak to the media during Roland Garros and was fined $15,000 for skipping the post-match press conference following her first-round victory on Sunday.
“I think it is now best for the tournament, the other players and my well-being that I withdraw so that everyone can focus again on the tennis taking place in Paris,” Osaka wrote on Monday.
In addition to Sunday’s fine during Day 1 of the French Open, she received a surprising warning from all four Grand Slam tournaments that she could face harsher penalties, including disqualification or even suspension, if she continues to shun the media.
Osaka returned to Roland Garros after knocking out the tournament last year, taking a mistake-filled 6-4, 7-6(4) win over 63rd Patricia Maria Tig at Court Philippe Chatrier on Day 1.
She had said on social media last week that she would not talk to the media and kept that promise.
Hours later, Osaka turned to her preferred method of communication these days, tweeting, “anger is a lack of understanding. change makes people uncomfortable.”
Tennis players are required to attend press conferences if requested. Of course, the maximum fine isn’t a big deal for Osaka, the world’s highest-earning female athlete thanks to endorsement contracts totaling tens of millions of dollars.
She took the case as a mental health issue and said it can lead to self-doubt for having to answer questions after a loss.
Other players, most notably 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal and No. 1 Ash Barty, have said they respect Osaka’s right to take a stand, but explained that they are speaking to reporters as part of consider their work.