Sport rallies round Naomi Osaka after revealing depression battle


thletes from across the world of sport have offered their support to Naomi Osaka, who announced her withdrawal from the French Open because of the furore caused by her boycott of media duties.

The world number two won her opening match against Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday but her decision not to take part in press conferences or interviews has been the biggest talking point of the tournament.

The grand slams reacted strongly to Osaka’s move, fining her and threatening potential disqualification and a ban from future tournaments should she not reconsider.

On Monday, Osaka confirmed she would be withdrawing from the tournament after revealing she had suffered bouts of depression since winning her first slam title at the US Open in 2018. The 23-year-old lifted that trophy to a chorus of boos after opponent Serena Williams was awarded a game penalty, and says that talking to the media triggers her anxiety.

Osaka wrote on Twitter: “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 be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” she continued. “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.”

American Coco Gauff replied to Osaka’s tweet to express her support and admiration.

The world number 25 wrote: “Stay strong. I admire your vulnerability.”

Martina Navratilova tweeted her best wishes, saying: “I am so sad about Naomi Osaka. I truly hope she will be OK.

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