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Naomi Osaka Pulls Out Of French Open Due To Mental Health Concerns

T
ennis star, Naomi Osaka, has decided to exit the French Open Tournament on mental health grounds after reports she has been struggling on anxiety and pressure since her US Open win back in 2018.

Handed a US$15,000 (AUD$19,460) fine after deciding to skip a post-match press conference caused Osaka to officially withdraw.

Osaka has also been told by the tournament organisers she may face uphill concerns from other Grand Slam tournaments if she does not complete her media obligations .

The board of Grand Slam tennis said Osaka will face harsher sanctions for each violation of media obligations.

“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,” the board of Grand Slam tennis said.

“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 suspension.

“We want to underline that rules are in place to ensure all players are treated exactly the same, no matter their stature, beliefs or achievement.

“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 dedicated time to participate in media commitments while the others all honour their commitments,” the board said.

When announcing her decision to not attend press conferences during the French Open, Osaka cited the affect they have on her mental health for the decision.

Discussing the issue of mental health, the joint statement from the Australian Open, Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open, said: “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…

“[We] jointly wrote to her (Osaka) to check on her well-being and offer support, underline the commitment to all athletes’ well-being and suggest dialogue on the issues.

“She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them and that rules should equally apply to all players,” they said.

Since her withdrawal, Osaka’s sponsors, including Nike, Mastercard and Tag Heuer have thrown their support behind the tennis star.

Nike, who reportedly pay Osaka $10 million a year in sponsorship, said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with Naomi.”

“We support her and recognise her courage in sharing her own mental health experience,” Nike said.

Osaka’s other major sponsors, Mastercard and TAG Heuer, also released statements supporting her decision to prioritise her mental health.

“Naomi Osaka’s decision reminds us all how important it is to prioritise personal health and well-being,” Mastercard said in a statement.

“We support her and admire her courage to address important issues on and off the court,” Mastercard said.

Tag Heuer said: “Naomi is going through difficult times and we truly hope to see her back soon.”

“She is a great champion and we are convinced that she will come out of this period stronger, be it professionally or personally,” the company said.