Naomi Osaka Announces She's Withdrawing From Wimbledon Tennis Tournament
The 23-year-old previously withdrew from the French Open, citing mental health reasons.
June 17, 2021 at 10:05 pm
Naomi Osaka announced on Thursday that she is withdrawing from Wimbledon, the oldest and one of the most prestigious tennis events in the world.
"Naomi won’t be playing Wimbledon this year," the 23-year-old’s agent, Stuart Duguid, said in a statement, NBC News reported. “She will be ready for the Olympics and is excited to play in front of her home fans.”
Osaka, however, will remain on course for the Tokyo Olympics set for late July.
As Blavity previously reported, the No. 2 women’s tennis player first opted out of tournament press conferences at the French Open, citing mental health reasons.
“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athlete’s mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” Osaka’s original statement read. "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."
Subsequently, the four-time Grand Slam champion withdrew from the French Open on May 31, as Blavity previously reported.
“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 said in a follow-up statement.
Since taking a stand to preserve her mental health, Osaka received outpouring support from people including Serena and Venus Williams, gymnast Gabby Douglas, Will Smith and the Calm app, a meditation app that offered to pay Osaka’s $15,000 fines for refusing to attend press conferences.
Earlier this month, administrators for the Grand Slam tournaments which include the French Open, Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the U.S. Open, joined in solidarity with Osaka, voicing their support for her decision to withdraw from one of their events.
"On behalf of the Grand Slams, we wish to offer Naomi Osaka our support and assistance in any way possible as she takes time away from the court,” they said in a statement, according to People. “She is an exceptional athlete and we look forward to her return as soon as she deems appropriate," the statement read. "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," as the officials emphasized that players' well-being "has always been a priority to the Grand Slams" and pledged to work with the athletes, tours, media and the tennis community at large "to advance mental health and wellbeing through further actions," the statement continued.
The main draw at Wimbledon begins on June 28 and will end on July 11.