Sharing their support. After Naomi Osaka announced her withdrawal from the French Open, her fellow athletes and several celebrities praised her decision via social media.
The athlete, 23, decided to exit the Grand Slam tournament on Monday, May 31, following a dispute with organizers over her participation in press conferences during the event.
The tennis star, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the world, said on Wednesday, May 26, that she would not take part in post-game news conferences to protect her mental health. Within hours, the French Open’s tournament referee fined her $15,000, and leaders of the four Grand Slam tournaments threatened to expel her from the event if she continued her boycott.
The day after winning her first-round match on Sunday, May 30, Osaka announced that she was taking herself out of contention.
“This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago,” she wrote via Instagram. “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 that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.”
The former Vogue cover star added that her original statement was not to meant to “trivialize mental health,” especially because she herself has “suffered long bouts since of depression” since competing in the 2018 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams to win her first Grand Slam.
That victory was famously marred by the crowd, who started booing during the trophy ceremony. Williams, 39, was attempting to beat Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 singles titles.
“I felt a little bit sad because I wasn’t really sure if they were booing at me or if it wasn’t the outcome that they wanted,” Osaka told the Today show at the time. “And then I also could sympathize because I’ve been a fan of Serena my whole life and I knew how badly the crowd wanted her to win.”
Before her withdrawal on Monday, the Japanese-born star had not previously revealed her struggle with depression.
“Anyone that knows me know 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,” she continued in her post. “Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize 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.”
She finished by announcing that she is going to “take some time away from the court right now,” adding that she wants to continue the discussion about players’ mental health at a later date.
“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,” she wrote. “Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, love you guys I’ll see you when I see you.”
Keep scrolling to see how athletes and other celebrities reacted to Osaka’s decision to leave the tournament: