Osaka withdraws from French Open after fines

Sports

Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates after defeating Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig during their first round match of the French open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Sunday, May 30, 2021 in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS (NewsNation Now) — Japan’s Naomi Osaka announced on Monday she was withdrawing from the French Open in the wake of her decision to boycott post-match media duties at the Grand Slam tournament.

Osaka was fined $15,000 by Grand Slam organizers for failing to attend a news conference following her first-round win.

The 23-year-old made the announcement on Twitter.

“I think now the best thing for the tournament, other players and my wellbeing is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis.”

She also said that she has “suffered long bouts of depression” since the 2018 U.S. Open, which she won by beating Serena Williams in a final filled with controversy.

In addition to Sunday’s fine during Day 1 of the French Open, she drew a surprising warning from all four Grand Slam tournaments that she could face stiffer penalties, including disqualification or even suspension, if she continues to avoid the media.

Osaka returned to Roland Garros after sitting out the tournament last year and turned in a mistake-filled 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over 63rd-ranked Patricia Maria Tig at Court Philippe Chatrier on Day 1.

She had said last week on social media she would not speak to the media and kept that promise.

Hours later, Osaka tweeted: “anger is a lack of understanding. change makes people uncomfortable.”

Tennis players are required to attend news conferences if requested to do so. The maximum fine, of course, is not a big deal to Osaka, the world’s highest-earning female athlete thanks to endorsement contracts totaling tens of millions of dollars.

She framed the matter as a mental health issue, saying that it can create self-doubt to have to answer questions after a loss.

Other players, notably 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal and No. 1-ranked Ash Barty, have said they respect Osaka’s right to take a stance but explained that they consider speaking to reporters part of the job.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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