Naomi Osaka Withdraws From French Open Over Interview Backlash

Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open, citing a “bout of depression” as the reason.

“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,” she tweeted. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.”

Osaka, 23, was fined $15,000 on Sunday after she refused to take part in a mandatory news conference following her first-round victory. She was also threatened with disqualification if she failed to show up for future press conferences again.

“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,” Osaka said in her statement released Monday. “…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.”

The official French Open Twitter account threw some shade in Osaka’s direction after her stunt Sunday.

Osaka is the world’s highest-earning female athlete, compiling a whopping $37.4 million in 2020. But OutKick’s Greg Couch recently wrote that she’s needs to drop the diva routine.

“Osaka didn’t say that she’s having a mental health issue. What she said was that the media are perpetuating mental health issues in athletes. She took it on as a cause,” Couch wrote in a separate column. “This is bigger than a typical blame-the-media issue.”

Osaka is ranked second in the world in women’s singles, behind only Australia’s Ashleigh Barty.

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and NBA.com, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side, FortyEightMinutes.com.

13 Comments

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  1. Have fun laying in the bed you made for yourself, Osaka.
    You have no one to blame but yourself.
    No empathy from me.
    I served our country for 20 years in the enlisted ranks and had to deal with much tougher life circumstances than questions from a media contingent.
    You hit a yellow ball back and forth across an 80 foot court while making millions doing it.
    Boo freaking Hoo.

  2. No winners here. While I am not a fan of athletes pretending their lives are hard, I have even less sympathy for requirements that anyone…ANYONE talk to the media ever. Society>Athletes>Media>Refs>League Officials.

  3. So she has zero problem performing at the highest of her abilities live in front of thousands of fans, and speaking to them at times. But she has anxiety when talking to the dozen or so folks in the press pool? Bullshit, it’s just easier to make herself a victim than clean up the mess she made.

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