Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open and will 'take some time away' from tennis

31 May 2021, 19:06 | Updated: 31 May 2021, 19:13

Osaka said she was withdrawing from the French Open and would take some time off from tennis
Osaka said she was withdrawing from the French Open and would take some time off from tennis. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open and plans to "take some time away from the court" amid controversy over her decision not to speak to the media.

The world number two announced her decision on Twitter.

It comes after she was fined around £10,000 for refusing to "fulfil her media commitments" after she said she was going to withdraw from doing interviews for mental health reasons.

She had been warned she faced being thrown out of the tournament over her media boycott.

The four-time grand slam champion announced on social media ahead of the tournament that she would not be doing any press at Roland Garros, citing mental health reasons.

The four grand slams threatened Osaka with severe sanctions should she not reconsider her stance.

The statement said: "We have advised Naomi Osaka 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.

"As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future grand slam suspensions."

She was fined over £10,000 for refusing to fulfil her media commitments after a 6-4 7-6 (4) first-round victory over Patricia Maria Tig.

The statement continued: "The Roland Garros teams asked her to reconsider her position and tried unsuccessfully to speak with her to check on her well-being, understand the specifics of her issue and what might be done to address it on site.

"The mental health of players competing in our tournaments and on the tours is of the utmost importance to the grand slams. We, individually and collectively, have significant resources dedicated to player well-being.

"In order to continue to improve, however, we need engagement from the players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experiences.

"A core element of the grand slam regulations is the responsibility of the players to engage with the media, whatever the result of their match, a responsibility which players take for the benefit of the sport, the fans and for themselves.

"As a sport, there is nothing more important than ensuring no player has an unfair advantage over another, which unfortunately is the case in this situation if one player refuses to dedicate time to participate in media commitments while the others all honour their commitments.

"Finally, all grand slams remain committed to continually reviewing and discussing opportunities, together with the tours and the players, to improve every aspect of the player experience, including with the media.

"But we consider this is only ever achieved through respectful and constructive discussions."