Naomi Osaka Pulls Out Of French Open, Says She's Stepping Back From Tennis

 Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open and announced that she will be stepping back from tennis.

The world No 2 - who won her opening match of this year's tournament at Roland Garros against Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday - stated that she had suffered 'long bouts of depression' since winning the US Open in 2018, and that she needed a break from the controversy that has enveloped her in the past week.

The US and Australian Open champion stated last Wednesday night that she would be refuse to attend press conferences this fortnight, on the grounds that they are injurious to her mental health.

Following a strong response from the four Grand Slams, and little in the way of solidarity from fellow players, she is now withdrawing from her second round.

In a statement on her social media she said: '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 trivialise 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. 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 apologise 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.

'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 I announced it pre-emptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.

'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.'

With less than four weeks to go until the start of Wimbledon it must be considered doubtful whether she would play there, or at the Olympics that follows in the country of her birth.

The enormous attention that her stance attracted seems to have taken her, and her advisers, by surprise. The declaration from the French Open and the three other Grand Slams that she ran the risk of being banned, and not just fined, also took seasoned observers aback in its swiftness and uncompromising nature.

On Sunday there had been a hint of exasperation in the statement from the four Majors, which referred to the 'lack of engagement by Naomi Osaka' after they reached out to her.

Osaka was also fined an initial £10,800 following her victory on Sunday. 

Her sister Mari attempted to defend Osaka's stance with a Reddit post, only to delete her words later and admit she had 'made the situation worse.'

'OK so I f***** up. My words are coming across so horribly to a lot of people who think taking care of mental health is strategic,' Mari wrote.

'I didn't emphasise the fact that Naomi is dealing with a ton of s*** and honestly fighting for the care of mental health in my post so now a lot of people are taking it as 'She doesn't want to hear criticism'.

'I'm sorry Naomi I probably made the situation worse.'

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