Osaka, in a lengthy statement, said she “never wanted to be a distraction” and that her removal is “the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being.”
Osaka agent Stuart Duguid confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that the world’s No.2 tennis player is stepping down ahead of her second round match at the clay court tournament in Paris.
A spokesperson for the tournament said Roland Garros was not aware of the Osaka withdrawal.
“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I am stepping back so that everyone can focus again on the tennis which takes place in Paris,” wrote Osaka. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and that the message could have been clearer. “
Osaka, 23, also revealed that she has struggled with depression and anxiety since winning her first major at the 2018 US Open and explained that talking to the media often makes her nervous. She apologized to all members of the media she influenced with her decision.
“I am not a natural speaker and I feel huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media,” she said. “I get very nervous and find it stressful to always try to commit and give [the media] the best answers I can. ”
– Naomi Osaka Naomi Osaka (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
The announcement garnered support from 17-year-old American Coco Gauff, who tweeted in response: “I admire your vulnerability”, and told Osaka to “stay strong”.
The four-time major champion and number 2 seed in this clay court Grand Slam announced on Wednesday that she would not attend any press conferences during the tournament, citing her sanity as the motivation for her decision.
Osaka’s announcement sparked much debate in the tennis and sports world, and other players including Rafael Nadal, 13-time Roland Garros champion and number 1 Ash Barty, said they respected Osaka’s right to take a stand, but explained that they were considering speaking. to journalists part of the job. She was fined $ 15,000 for missing her post-game press conference on Sunday following her victory over Patricia Maria Tig.
In addition to Sunday’s fine, Osaka drew a surprising warning from the four Grand Slam tournaments that she could face tougher penalties, including disqualification or even suspension, if she continues to avoid the media. .
Osaka, who was next due to face Ana Bogdan in the second round on Wednesday, said she hoped she could have a conversation with WTA officials when she returned.
“I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways to make things better for the players, the press and the fans,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.