The four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open Tournament over a news conference dispute.
Osaka decided to quit the tournament citing concerns about her mental health.
“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,” Ms. Osaka said in an Instagram post, in which she said she struggled with depression and anxiety.
She added, “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been cleared.”
“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.” She did not indicate when she would return to tournament play.
This is the first time a tennis player has decided to walk off the tournament after not suffering an injury.
Gilles Moretton, president of the French Federation of Tennis, called her withdrawal “unfortunate.”
Mr. Moretton said in a statement that tournament organizers wished her the “quickest possible recovery.”
“We are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka,” he said. “We remain very committed to all athletes’ well-being and to continually improving every aspect of players’ experience in our tournament, including with the media, like we have always strived to do.”
Osaka had earlier faced criticism from Piers Morgan who called her an arrogant spoiled brat after she snubbed the media during the French Open Tournament.
In an opinion piece published in the Daily Mail, Piers Morgan has claimed that Osaka an arrogant spoiled brat whose fame and fortune appear to have inflated her ego to gigantic proportions.
Osaka was fined a total of $15,000 for refusing to appear in front of the media during the current French Open Roland-Garros tournament, and a joint statement from all four Grand Slam organizers said she will face ‘more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions’ if she continues her boycott.
Defending herself, Osaka stated that the organizers have always ignored the mental health of athletes that is why she is staying away from the media in the French Open tournament.
“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one. 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. I’ve watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well. I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it. Me not doing press is nothing personal to the tournament and a couple of journalists have interviewed me since I was young so I have a friendly relationship with most of them. However, if the organizations think that they can just keep saying, ‘do press or you’re gonna be fined’, and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are the centerpiece of their cooperation than I just gotta laugh,” she wrote.