World number two Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open after the controversy over her refusal to speak to the media at the tournament.

In a tweet announcing the move, Japan’s Osaka also said she had “suffered long bouts of depression” since winning her first Grand Slam title in 2018.

The 23-year-old said last week she would not do news conferences at Roland Garros to protect her mental health.

“I never wanted to be a distraction,” the four-time major winner said.

On Sunday, Osaka won her opening match against Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig in straight sets and was fined $15,000 for not doing post-match media.

Later that day, a joint statement from Grand Slam organisers said Osaka could face expulsion from the tournament if she continued to avoid them.

That led to the player announcing her withdrawal on Monday, saying she was going to “take some time away from the court now”.

“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 added.

French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton said the withdrawal of the second seed was “unfortunate”.

“We are sorry and sad for Naomi,” Moretton added. “We wish her the best and quickest possible recovery, and we look forward to having Naomi at our tournament next year.

“As all the Grand Slams, the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, we remain very committed to all athletes’ wellbeing and to continually improving every aspect of players’ experience in our tournament, including with the media, like we have always strived to do.”

Many athletes, both in and out of tennis, applauded Osaka’s stance after she announced it on Wednesday, although many said speaking to the media is “part of the job”.

Grand Slam rules state players can be fined up to $20,000 for failing to meet their media obligations, with the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) saying players “have a responsibility to their sport and their fans” to speak to the media during competitions.

Following her win over Tig, Osaka did take part in the usual on-court interview with the victor.

Later on Sunday, organisers of the four Grand Slams released a joint statement saying Osaka could face “more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions” for her decision.

The Grand Slams added that following Osaka’s announcement on Wednesday, Roland Garros teams had asked her to reconsider her position and were unsuccessful in their attempts to check on her wellbeing.

After a “lack of engagement” from Osaka, the Grand Slam organisers wrote to her to offer support, as well as to “remind her of her obligations”.

In response, the two-time Australian Open champion tweeted: “Anger is a lack of understanding. Change makes people uncomfortable”.

The following day, Osaka announced her decision to withdraw from the tournament altogether.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here