Naomi Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam singles tennis champion representing Japan, has announced she will withdraw from the French Open on Monday, May 31, 2021. “I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players, and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can go back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.”
Her declaration last week that she would protect her mental health during the French open and skip news conferences caused quite the stir. There was much conversation around whether tennis athletes’ media obligations after competitions harmed their mental health.
Although Osaka did a brief interview on the court after her first-round victory over Patricia Maria Tig on May 30, 2021, she was still fined $15,000 for skipping a news conference. Tennis officials stated that she could be fined increasing penalties or defaulted tournaments if she continued ignoring the regulations that force players to participate in post-match news conferences.
The tennis champion expressed via social media that she has had a hard time coping with the depression she has experienced since her 2018 U.S. Open victory. She beat her idol tennis champion, Serena Williams, in a 6-2, 6-4 upset. She is also an avid supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and has been outspoken against social injustice and participating in protest marches.
Hopefully, she can get the mental health support that she needs to continue to break records. According to Forbes, Osaka earned over $37 million in a 12 month period from prize money and endorsements. She broke Maria Sharapova’s 2015 record as the highest-paid female athlete.
Written by Ebonee Stevenson
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Los Angeles Times: Naomi Osaka says she will withdraw from French Open; by Helene Elliot
Forbes: Naomi Osaka Is The Highest-Paid Female Athlete Ever Topping Serena Williams; by Kurt Badenhausen
Featured Image Courtesy of Rob Prange’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Tatiana’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License