Paris: Amidst the ongoing controversy regarding her decision to boycott press conferences at the ongoing French Open, Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka on Monday announced that she is withdrawing herself from the tournament.
In a statement released on Twitter, Osaka said: "Hey everyone, 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 trivialize mental health or use the term lightly," she said.
"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 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. Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize 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 added.
World number two Osaka was on Sunday was fined 15,000 dollars for skipping the press conference following her win in the first round in the ongoing French Open. The tournament organisers also said that the Japanese tennis star could be subjected to additional sanctions if she continues to "ignore her media obligations".
"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 I announced it preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that. I wrote privately to the tournament apologizing and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the Slams are intense," said Osaka further in her statement.
"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 added.
Last week, Osaka had said that she would not be taking part in press conferences during the French Open in order to ensure better mental health.
Osaka defeated Patricia Maria Tig 6-4, 7-6(4) on the opening day of the tournament on Sunday. With the victory, the Japanese tennis star also extended her winning streak at the Grand Slams to 15 matches in a row.