- Grand Slam leaders pledged to support Naomi Osaka after she withdrew from the French Open citing mental health.
- The pledge came after they fined Osaka $15,000 for refusing to speak to the media on Sunday.
- Osaka withdrew from the French Open Monday, saying she “never wanted to be a distraction” from the tournament.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The tennis organizations behind the Grand Slam tournaments pledged on Tuesday to support Naomi Osaka after she withdrew from the French Open to protect her mental health.
The statement from the Grand Slam leaders came after they issued a $15,000 fine against Osaka after she refused to attend a press conference following her first-round win at the French Open on Sunday.
“Naomi Osaka today chose not to honor her contractual media obligations,” the head administrators of Tennis Australia, the US Tennis Association, the French Tennis Federation, and the All England Lawn Tennis Club said in a statement shared by Roland-Garros stadium.
“She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them, and that rules should equally apply to all players,” they added. The organizations host the four Grand Slam tournaments — Wimbledon, US Open, and Australian Open, alongside the French Open.
Osaka responded to the fine: “Anger is a lack of understanding. Change makes people uncomfortable.”
On Monday, the tennis star posted a statement to Twitter announcing her withdrawal from the French Open, saying she “never wanted to be a distraction” from the tournament.
“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,” she wrote. “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 trivialize mental health or use the term lightly,” Osaka continued, adding that she gets “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to the media.
Following Osaka’s withdrawal, the presidents and chairman of the four tennis organizations issued a statement Tuesday saying “on behalf of the Grand Slams,” they “wish to offer Naomi Osaka our support and assistance in any way possible as she takes time away from the court.”
“She is an exceptional athlete and we look forward to her return as soon as she deems appropriate,” they said. “Mental health is a very challenging issue, which deserves our utmost attention. It is both complex and personal, as what affects one individual does not necessarily affect another.”
“We commend Naomi for sharing in her own words the pressures and anxieties she is feeling and we empathize with the unique pressures tennis players may face.”
Prior to Osaka’s withdrawal, the French Open’s social media appeared to mock the tennis champ for deciding to go on a media blackout before the tournament started.
“They understood the assignment,” the official French Open Twitter account wrote in a now-deleted tweet with photos of other athletes — Kei Nishikori, Aryna Sabalenka, Rafael Nadal, and Coco Gauff — speaking to the media.