Speed Reads

taking a break

Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open after conflict over press availability, citing struggles with depression

Naomi Osaka, the world's No. 2 women's tennis player, announced Monday that she's withdrawing from the French Open after winning her opening round match.

Osaka had previously said she intended to skip mandatory media sessions during the tournament because she wanted to focus on her mental well-being. Tournament organizers weren't pleased and fined her $15,000 for following through on her decision. 

Money wasn't the reason Osaka, who is fresh off an Australian Open victory and is considered one of the sport's greatest talents, withdrew, however. Instead, in a statement seeking to provide more depth to her previous comments, she said she didn't want to be a "distraction" and felt it was best to sit the rest of the tournament out, "so everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris." 

The 23-year-old explained that she has "suffered long bouts of depression" since winning the U.S. Open in 2018 and "gets huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world's media," even "though the tennis press has always been kind to me." Leading up to the French Open, she said, "I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences."

Osaka mentioned that she was going to "take some time away from the court now," but didn't specify how long her break might be. Read Osaka's full statement here.