Naomi Osaka announces withdrawal from French Open after media blackout controversy

Naomi Osaka says she is withdrawing from the French Open, just five days after she made waves by announcing she would not speak to press during the tournament.

The world No. 2 announced her withdrawal on Monday, saying she never wanted her decision to be a distraction and reiterating her struggles with depression.

— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021

Osaka conceded that the timing of her previous announcement was "not ideal" and her message could have been clearer, but noted that she has suffered long bouts of depression since her victory at the 2018 US Open.

Osaka ended her statement by saying she is going to "take some time away from the court" in the wake of the controversy that has raged over the last five days, but still wishes to discuss the situation with tournament organizers.

Naomi Osaka's full statement:

"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.

"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.

"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 I announced it preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.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. 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."

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