Naomi Osaka said there were lots of things she 'did wrong' when she withdrew from the 2021 French Open
- Naomi Osaka pulled out of the 2021 French Open after being fined $15,000 for refusing to speak to the media.
- She said in an interview Friday that there were things she "did wrong" during her exit.
- Osaka cited mental health reasons for her decision to pull out of the Grand Slam competition.
Naomi Osaka has opened up about her withdrawal from this year's French Open, saying there were things she "did wrong."
In a press conference Friday ahead of the US Open, reported here by CNN, Osaka said: "Honestly, I feel like there's a lot of things that I did wrong in that moment, but I'm also the type of person that's very in the moment.
"Like whatever I feel, I'll say it or do it. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. I think there's a lot of things that I learned to do better. Of course, I don't feel the same situation will happen again.
"I would say, maybe think it through a bit more in the way that, like, I didn't know how big of a deal it would become."
Heading into the French Open, Osaka posted a statement on social media declaring that she would not be speaking to the media during the tournament.
"I've often felt that people have no regard for athletes' mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one," she wrote. "We're often sat there and asked questions that we've been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I'm just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me."
Osaka went on to write that she hoped any fines she might receive would "go towards a mental health charity."
-NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 26, 2021
She was subsequently fined $15,000 for failing to attend press conferences, although she did still participate in a court-side interview after her first-round win against Romanian Patricia Maria Tig.
"Naomi Osaka today chose not to honor her contractual media obligations," Tennis Australia, the US Tennis Association, the French Tennis Federation, and the All England Lawn Tennis Club said in a joint statement that was shared by Roland-Garros stadium. "The Roland-Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 fine, in keeping with article III H. of the Code of Conduct."
The Grand Slam organizations also said that if Osaka continued to refuse to attend press conferences, she would be fined further and could be suspended from future competitions.
-NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
"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."
The four-time Grand Slam winner went on to describe the "huge waves of anxiety" she gets before speaking to the media. She said she's had bouts of depression since 2018.
Osaka later penned a first-person essay for Time Magazine in which she suggested that the format of the press conference between journalists and athletes was "out of date".
Osaka has won the Australian Open and US Open twice each. She will be hoping to add a third US Open and fifth Grand Slam title to her collection when the competition starts on August 30.
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