Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Naomi, Do You Girl, Do You...,

guardian |   Naomi Osaka has announced her withdrawal from Roland Garros one day after she was fined $15,000 by the French Open and warned that she could face expulsion from the tournament following her decision not to speak with the press during the tournament.

Osaka, who won her first match against Patricia Maria Tig and was scheduled to face Ana Bogdan in the second round, had released a statement last Wednesday stating her intention to skip her media obligations during Roland Garros because of the effects of her interactions with the press on her mental health.

In a statement on Monday signifying her withdrawal from the event, Osaka said she was leaving the tournament so that the focus could return to tennis after days of attention and widespread discussion.

“This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago,” Osaka wrote on social media. “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 trivialise mental health or use the term lightly.”

In her original statement, Osaka had noted her expectation that she would be fined and Gilles Moretton, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) president, had affirmed in a press conference with the French press last Thursday that his organisation would penalise Osaka.

However, the organisation offered no official response until the lengthy statement signed by the four grand slam tournaments on Sunday after Osaka’s first-round win. Their heavy handed approach to Osaka has received significant criticism as it meant Osaka had to choose between either risking significant punishment or else returning to conduct press conferences. The attention Osaka has received was only compounded by the announcement of her fine.

On Thursday evening Osaka’s older sister, Mari, attempted to support her sister by providing further context of her struggles on Reddit. She stated that Osaka had been hurt by frequent questioning about her ability on clay courts and that she felt she was being “told that she has a bad record on clay”. After losing in the first round of Rome, Mari Osaka said her sister was “not OK mentally”. After receiving some criticism, Mari Osaka deleted her post.

 

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