Paris: World No. 2 Naomi Osaka of Japan on Monday withdrew from the French Open over her stand to not to speak to the media due to her mental health.
Naomi, 23, defeated Romania's Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday, but did not turn up to face media. This prompted the organisers to fine her $15,000 and be warned that she faced expulsion from Grand Slam tournaments if she continued to do so.
On Monday, Naomi posted a statement on Twitter, saying that she had "suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018" and that "it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences" because she gets "huge waves of anxiety before".
"This isn't a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. 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. I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly I would never trivialise mental health or use the term lightly," wrote the winner of four Grand Slam titles.
"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. Anyone that knows me knows that I'm introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I'm often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety."
Naomi apologised to journalists for a genuine reason.
"Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologise especially to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt), I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world's media. I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can," she wrote.
"So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences. I announced it pre-emptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that. I wrote privately to the tournament apologising and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the Slams are intense."
Naomi did not commit on how long her break would be.
"I'm gonna take some time away from the court now, but 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. Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, love you guys I'll see you when I see you," she said.