Naomi Osaka will not receive special treatment at Wimbledon this summer after the world No. 2 withdrew from the French Open on Monday due to mental health problems.
The Japanese star withdrew from Roland Garros after refusing to attend mandatory post-match press conferences, revealing she had been suffering from depression for three years.
She was also fined £10,800 by the tournament referee and threatened with exclusion from the French Open and future majors for refusing to face the media.
Naomi Osaka will not receive special treatment with media duties at Wimbledon this year
Osaka withdrew from the French Open on Monday and it is unclear if she will play at SW19
Osaka has since returned to her Los Angeles home as she begins her tennis hiatus. It has sparked speculation as to whether or not she will compete in Wimbledon later this month, but reports suggest the chances of that are ‘reducing’.
Her name is on the Wimbledon entry list, but, according to The Times, a decision on whether or not to participate in London will be made in ‘the next few days’.
However, the four-time Grand Slam winner will not receive special treatment at SW19 and will have to perform her usual media duties if she wants to participate.
A statement from the heads of the four Grand Slams promised to improve players’ media demands, but made it clear that this was not special treatment given to Osaka due to her mental health problems.
It read: ‘We want to offer our support and assistance to Naomi Osaka in every way possible as she takes the time not to go to court.
“While the well-being of players has always been a priority for the Grand Slams, our intention, together with the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, is to promote mental health and well-being through further actions.
“Together as a community, we will continue to improve the player experience at our tournaments, including in terms of media.
“Change must come through the lens of maintaining a level playing field, regardless of rank or status.
“We plan to work with the players, the tours, the media and the wider tennis community to create meaningful improvements.”
Osaka, 23, has returned home to Los Angeles after leaving France this week
Osaka has since returned to her Los Angeles home as she begins her break from tennis
The Telegraphclaim, however, that the chances of Osaka playing at Wimbledon are ‘reducing’.
It is also reported that the WTA would freeze her second position in the world rankings if she was unable to play for more than eight weeks.
To give Osaka a boost, the International Olympic Committee has insisted that no athlete will be forced to attend a press conference during this summer’s Tokyo 2020 Games.
Japan’s Osaka makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo and would be a strong medal hope for the host country.
Her decision to withdraw from the French Open has sparked a polarized opinion among Eurosport presenter and Sportsmail columnist Boris Becker, who wondered whether the extracurricular demands on Osaka could even force her out of the game.
“She couldn’t handle the pressure of confronting the media, especially after she lost a game,” he said.
“And you don’t get half the pie. I hated the media, I didn’t like talking to journalists, but I had to do it.
“She has said she will withdraw from the tournament completely because she cannot handle it.
Chiefs of tennis’ four Grand Slam events vowed to improve players’ media demands
That raises much bigger questions for me because if she can’t handle the media in Paris, she can’t handle the media at Wimbledon, she can’t handle the media at the US Open.
“I almost feel like her career is in jeopardy because of mental health issues — and we have to take that very seriously.”
Novak Djokovic praised Osaka as “brave” and “daring” for being candid about her struggles with depression and anxiety.
‘I support her. I think she was very brave to do that,” said Djokovic, who defeated Tennys Sandgren with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 victory to mark the first-ever men’s evening session at Court Philippe-Chatrier on Tuesday.
“I’m really sorry she’s going through painful times and suffering mentally, I’ve heard.
This was, I must say, a very bold decision on her part.
“If she needs time to think and recharge, then she should, and I fully respect that. I hope she comes back stronger.”
Judy Murray also sympathized with Osaka and said she fully understands her concerns about confronting the media.
She revealed that son Andy received media training at the age of 19 to learn how to handle the press conference environment, but this was beyond the financial means of most players.
Novak Djokovic (left) praised ‘brave’ Osaka (right) for opening up about her struggles with depression and anxiety
‘Almost all’ [athletes] who had struggled with depression or anxiety said it was caused by being thrown into the spotlight when they reached the top,” Murray wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
‘They were completely afraid of it, even though it is part of being a top athlete.
‘Afraid of the press, being attacked by a curious question, being trolled on social media, loss of privacy; these public elements of work are an underestimated source of stress.
How many young people do you know who would feel comfortable being accosted or questioned by a room full of much older strangers?
“It’s hard for any young athlete, but especially for girls. They look up and see dozens of middle-aged men, people they don’t get along with easily and who have no experience playing the game.
‘When you step into a doctor’s office, there are so many possible pitfalls. When you’ve won, you’re excited and you risk feeling so relaxed and happy that something goes wrong and gets you in trouble.
“It’s harder when you’ve lost, though. You’re much more likely to get upset or ask a provocative question – and we all know that anger, fears, feuds and gossip make for good stories.”
NAOMI OSAKA FULL STATEMENT