Naomi Osaka withdraws from Wimbledon for ‘personal time’
Written by tokyoclub on June 23, 2021
Japanese tennis champ and four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from Wimbledon but will still represent Japan at the Tokyo Olympics, according to a statement released by her agent.
The news comes just a couple weeks after she withdrew from the French Open, citing mental health concerns.
“Naomi won’t be playing Wimbledon this year,” her agent said in a statement that was released on Thursday. “She is taking some personal time with friends and family.”
The statement continued, “She will be ready for the Olympics and is excited to play in front of her home fans.”
The famous English tennis tournament, Wimbledon, is slated to begin on June 28 and runs through July 11, less than two weeks before the Summer Games kick off in Tokyo on July 23.
Although Naomi has yet to personally address her withdrawal on social media, she was very frank in late May when she decided to withdraw from the French Open after being slapped with a $15,000 fine from the tournament organizers Roland Garros for not participating in media scrums and press conferences – something she says negatively impacted her mental health and depression.
“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,” Osaka wrote in a statement at the time.
“I’m gonna take some time away from the court now, but 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 added.
That statement came on the heels of a now-deleted statement posted to her Instagram, where she wrote, “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. 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.”
“I’ve watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well. I believe that [the] whole situation is kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it,” Naomi continued.
“Me not doing press is nothing personal to the tournament and a couple journalists have interviewed me since I was young so I have a friendly relationship with most of them.”
Naomi concluded, “However, if the organizations think that they can just keep saying, ‘do press or you’re gonna be fined’, and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are the centerpiece of their cooperation then I just gotta laugh.”
She was also threatened with future penalties, fines, and possible suspensions from Roland Garros.
It would seem that she is now inspiring other tennis athletes to do the same, because on the same day that she announced her Wimbledon withdrawal, so did tennis superstar Rafael Nadal.
Writing that he won’t participate in either Wimbledon or the Tokyo Olympics, the tennis star said in a multi-threaded twitter statement that he had to do “what makes me happy,” and that he is “listening to his body.”
Many people are already flooding social media with support for Naomi, who has achieved so much at just the young age of 23. Even the official Wimbledon Twitter account had to give it up.
These cheers join a chorus of celebs who have voiced their unanimous support for the Japanese tennis champ since she went public with her mental health struggles, including Will Smith, Serena Williams, Jameela Jamil and even AOC.
“I feel for Naomi,” Serena said during her own French Open press conference. “I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like.”
In the comments section of her May 31st Instagram post, Olympic track star Usain Bolt commented with prayer hand emojis. “So proud of you. Take care of yourself and see you back winning soon!” Venus Williams said. Naomi’s boyfriend Cordae commented, “No need to apologize to ANYBODY !” Chelsea Handler wrote, “Good for you,” while Rita Wilson told the tennis star to “Take care of yourself” and “Stay well.”
Naomi is ranked the no. 2 woman tennis player in the world, and is the highest-paid female athlete ever.
BEFORE YOU GO: Serena Williams speaks out in support of Naomi Osaka
[video_embed id=’2213313′]BEFORE YOU GO: Serena Williams speaks out in support of Naomi Osaka[/video_embed]