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French Open: Osaka withdraws after bitter media boycott row

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World number two Naomi Osaka has announced on her social media channels that she’s withdrawing from the French Open following the bitter fall-out from her decision to boycott all media activity.

Japan's Naomi Osaka in action
Japan’s Naomi Osaka in action during her French Open first round match against Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig. Picture: Christian Hartmann, Reuters

PARIS – Naomi Osaka said on Monday she was withdrawing from the French Open following the bitter fall-out from her decision to boycott all media activity at the Grand Slam event.

“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,” the world number two wrote on Twitter.

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The 23-year-old Japanese star was fined $15,000 on Sunday and threatened with disqualification after she refused to carry out a mandatory news conference following her first round win.

She claimed on the eve of Roland Garros that such post-match inquests were akin to “kicking people when they are down” and that they had a detrimental effect on her mental health.

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“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” the four-time Grand Slam title winner said in her statement.

“The truth is I have suffered bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.”

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She added: “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 out-dated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.”

AFP