In a stunning move, tennis world number two Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open, a day after she was warned that she could face expulsion from the tournament following her refusal to speak to the media at the grand slam.
Last week, the 23-year-old had said she would skip media obligations during Roland Garros as they had a detrimental effect on her mental health.
She was fined $15,000 by the Roland Garros referee and Grand Slam organisers had warned her of possible expulsion from the French Open and other Grand Slams in the future if she does not change her stance.
Ending the stand-off, the four-time Grand Slam winner, announced her decision to withdraw from the tournament on twitter on Monday, citing depression and social anxiety. "This isn't a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago," Osaka said, explaining that speaking with the media makes her anxious.
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.Naomi Osaka
‘Huge Waves Of Social Anxiety’
The Japanese star went on to say that she had suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and had a really hard time coping with that.
Osaka said she is an introverted person who suffers from social anxiety, adding that she is not a “natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety” before talking to the world’s media.
“Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety," Osaka said.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition, characterised by an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect the individual's day-to-day activities. However, treatment can help you overcome symptoms.
Some people do not have anxiety in social situations but have performance anxiety instead. They have physical symptoms of anxiety in situations such as giving a speech, playing a sports game, or dancing on stage.
While all Tennis players are required to hold press conferences after each match, where young athletes are expected to answer tough, intimate questions, Osaka said she was already feeling vulnerable and decided to exercise self-care instead.
“So here 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 outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that,” she wrote.
In the build-up to the tournament, Osaka had she would not attend the obligatory press conferences, citing that the way journalists question players adversely impacts her mental well-being.