She added, “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.”
In her statement, the four-time grand slam champion detailed that she had suffered from “long bouts of depression” since the 2018 US Open final. “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,” wrote Osaka.
She went on to say that she suffers from “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to the 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 I announced it preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.”
Osaka has received support from the tennis community since leaving the competition. And many have been quick to criticise the heavy-handed approach of organisers, believing it to be disproportionate to Osaka’s initial request. As Martina Navratilova said in a Tweet, “As athletes we are taught to take care of our body, and perhaps the mental and emotional aspect gets short shrift. This is about more than doing or not doing a press conference.”