NAOMI OSAKA has dramatically quit the French Open after refusing to end her media boycott.
And the Japan megastar – who says she has suffered depression since the infamous 2018 US Open final win over Serena Williams – could skip Wimbledon after deciding to take “some time away from the court now”.
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The world No2 was fined £10,600 for not speaking after her first-round victory in Paris, citing mental health concerns over critical questions.
The 23-year-old was threatened with expulsion from Roland Garros and potential suspension from the other Slams if she persisted not to talk to worldwide press after matches.
But in a statement posted on Twitter, she claimed she has anxiety and stress issues when speaking in front of the media.
Osaka said: “This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago.
“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.
“More importantly I would never trivialise mental health or use the term lightly.
“The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.
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“Anyone that knows me knows 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.
“Though the tennis press has always been kind to me – and I want to apologise especially to all the cool journalists 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.
“I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can.
“So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences.
“I announced it pre-emptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.
“I wrote privately to the tournament apologising and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the slams are intense.”
Osaka, who will now step away from action for a period of time, added that she wants to “work with the (WTA) Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans”.
The news comes a day after former world No.1 Mats Wilander encouraged her to leave the tournament if she did not fulfil her contract obligations to talk to journalists.
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