Tennis star Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open over "depression and anxiety"

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Naomi Osaka – the world number two – has withdrawn from the French Open after not speaking to the media and sparking controversy during the event.

Osaka was the winner of the Australian Open earlier this year, and she claimed the US Open in 2020, however, the Japanese athlete has never won the Roland Garros.

The 23-year-old announced, before the tournament, that she would not be attending press conferences to protect her mental health, however, she spoke to court-side reporters after her first-round victory.

Osaka's actions led to a fine and a warning from the organisers, and Osaka has now withdrawn from the event.

"This isn't a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago," Osaka said in a statement on her Twitter page.

"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 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 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 am introverted and anyone that has seen me at 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 want to apologise 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.

"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 I announced it pre-emptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.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 wrote privately to the tournament apologising and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the Slams are intense.

"I'm going to 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."

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