French Open Tennis. Roland-Garros 2021.

Naomi Osaka puts career on hold to take a mental health break

“I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” she said

Naomi Osaka is taking a mental health break and withdraw from the Berlin WTA 5000 tournament, weeks after she pulled out of the French Open for the same reason. “We have received notification Naomi Osaka cannot start in Berlin. After consulting her management, she will take a break,” the event organizers said in a statement.

According to The Grio, the 23-year-old athlete was fined $15K for not attending to the French Open post-match news conference. The statement said Osaka has been “advised” that “should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences.”

French Open Tennis. Roland-Garros 2021.©GettyImages

Later Osaka released a statement informing her decision to withdraw from the tournament. “Hey everyone, this isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. 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. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly.”

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

“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. Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize, especially to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt), I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media. I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can,” she added.

French Open Tennis. Roland-Garros 2021.©GettyImages
Naomi Osaka of Japan conducts an on court interview wearing a mask after her victory against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania in the first round of the Women’s Singles competition on Court Philippe-Chatrier at the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament

According to the tennis player, skipping the press conference was another form of self-care. “I wrote privately to the tournament apologizing and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the Slams are intense,” she explained. “I’m gonna take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right, I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press, and fans. Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, love you guys; I’ll see you when I see you.”

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