Naomi Osaka Withdraws From the French Open After Her Comments About Mental Health
She's stepping away from the court for a much-deserved break.
Update, May 31, 2021: Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open. In an Instagram post, she announced that it was the "best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being." She noted that she wanted the focus back on the game and not her previous statements about her mental health.
"I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly," her note included. She also noted that she's experienced depression in the past as well as social anxiety and nervousness during public speaking. She finished her note by saying that she'd work with the Tour to make things better for players, journalists, and fans.
Previously: Naomi Osaka is skipping out on post-match interviews at this year's French Open, NBC News reports. The superstar, who is currently ranked no. 2 in the world, cited her own mental health for the decision, comparing the interviews after losses to "kicking a person while they are down." She faces a fine of up to $20,000 for skipping post-match briefings (it's waived if the individual is "injured and physically unable to appear") and in a message posted to her social media accounts, she mentioned clips of players "breaking down" after competitions and reporters disregarding the athletes' mental health and well-being. She added that she hoped all the money from her fines would go to mental health charities.
"I've often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one," she wrote on Instagram. "We're often sat there and asked questions that we've been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I'm just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me."
Venus Williams, herself a seven-time Grand Slam champion, commented, "Girl, do you. Your life is yours to live!"
Back in 2018 at Indian Wells, she mentioned that she was experiencing depression, saying, "Yesterday I just woke up and I was really depressed, but I don't know why ... I was able to win two matches, but I feel like that really doesn't say I can play well on clay. It's more, I think, I'm just an OK player that was able to play OK. Like, I'm so sad right now."
Later, at the 2018 U.S. Open, she opened up about depression in an interview with Teen Vogue.
"You can easily get depressed. Usually, if you play sports, you think that one match or one game is very important, and when you lose it, you think your whole world is over," she said. "I can see how easily that can turn."