Women’s tennis great Martina Navratilova on Monday said she was saddened by Naomi Osaka’s decision to withdraw from the French Open following the controversy over her decision to boycott media obligations.
Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka announced her decision on Monday, a day after being fined $15,000 for not attending a post-match media conference and threatened with expulsion after her first-round win.
The Japanese player, who cited the negative impact on her mental wellbeing caused by facing journalists at post-match press conferences as the reason for her boycott, wrote on Twitter that she had suffered from depression since 2018.
“I am so sad about Naomi Osaka. I truly hope she will be okay,” 18-time Grand Slam singles champion Navratilova said after Osaka’s decision to withdraw.
“As athletes we are taught to take care of our body, and perhaps the mental and emotional aspect gets short shrift,” Navratilova said.
“This is about more than doing or not doing a press conference. Good luck Naomi — we are all pulling for you!”
Osaka said she decided to withdraw from the Grand Slam tournament because she did not want to become a “distraction”.
“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,” world No. 2 mentioned on Twitter.
Osaka mentioned she regretted the timing of her media boycott. Navratilova mentioned it had made the scenario worse.
“Kudos to Naomi Osaka for caring so much about the other players,” Navratilova mentioned. “While she tried to make a situation better for herself and others, she inadvertently made it worse.
“Hope this resolution, pulling out, as brutal as it’s, will permit her to begin therapeutic and deal with herself,” Navratilova added.
Former American player Mardy Fish, who struggled with anxiety issues during his career, said Osaka should be fully supported. “Mental Health is nothing to criticize. Nothing to joke about. Please take your mental health critically,” he said.
“Without my assist system, I actually consider I’d not be right here right this moment. Here for you @naomiosaka”.