Naomi Osaka has dropped out of the French Open one day after officials threatened to expel her from the tournament if she continued to refuse to speak to the media after her matches.
Naomi Osaka has become one of the biggest stars in all of tennis, but the current No. 2 player in the world in the WTA rankings will not be playing any further in the second major championship of the year.
— NaomiOsaka????? (@naomiosaka) May 26, 2021
On Monday, Osaka announced she would be withdrawing from the French Open after winning her first match in straight sets, the result of a weekend of debate surrounding her initial announcement that she would not be doing any press availability during the championships. Osaka had cited protecting her mental health as the reason she did not want to participate in press conferences, particularly post-match, during the tournament and went into further detail about the anxiety she deals with in those situations in her announcement that she would be withdrawing.
— NaomiOsaka????? (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
It is an unfortunate end to a controversy that never should’ve been as big as it got. Osaka takes responsibility for announcing her plan to not do press in the wrong manner, and notes that she’s had private conversations with tournament officials about it and hopes to have more moving forward after this year’s event ends. That she felt the only way to end it was to withdraw completely is a shame, not just for Osaka as she looked to make a deep run at one of the major’s she’s yet to reach the quarters in, but for fans who won’t be able to watch one of tennis’ great talents because her request not to do press became such a story she felt she couldn’t perform without being a distraction.
There are absolutely conversations to be had, as she notes at the end of her statement, on how to make the press-player relationship work better for all parties, and hopefully this can be a starting point for that even if it begins with an unfortunate situation that seemed avoidable had her initial statement been handled and taken differently.
Sending love to Naomi.