Thursday November 30, 2023

Osaka Quits French Open Over Media Obligations

  • Osaka was fined $15,000 for skipping post-match interviews.
  • When threatened with expulsion from the French Open, she withdrew.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports, Nike/Design: Alex Brooks
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Naomi Osaka, the highest-paid female athlete in the world, withdrew from the French Open on Monday after a standoff with tournament officials that began last week.

The four-time champion had previously announced that she would not participate in post-match interviews at Roland Garros to protect her mental health, and kept her word after a first-round win on Sunday.

Osaka was fined $15,000 for her decision and officials from the four Grand Slam tournaments suggested that she could face outright expulsion from the French Open if she continued skipping interviews.

Before they got the chance, Osaka bowed out.

I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” she wrote in a note shared on social media. “The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the U.S. Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.”

Osaka won her first title at that 2018 U.S. Open in a triumph over Serena Williams that made the Japanese player an instant star and favorite among global brands.

She’s inked sponsorship deals with many of the biggest brands in the world: Nike, Louis Vuitton, Beats, Levi’s, Sweetgreen, and several others — earning over $55 million in the past year alone, per the New York Times.

The 23-year-old said she is taking time off from tennis and did not indicate when she will return to play. Wimbledon begins in late June, two weeks after the French Open wraps up.

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