Naomi Osaka's devastating admission about Serena Williams scandal

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, pictured here after the 2018 US Open final.
Naomi Osaka was in tears after beating Serena Williams in the 2018 US Open final. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

In announcing her shock withdrawal from the French Open on Monday, Naomi Osaka revealed how she has suffered with bouts of depression dating back to when she won the 2018 US Open final.

The World No.2 quit the clay-court grand slam on Monday after she was threatened with being kicked out of the tournament by the Grand Slam board.

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Osaka was fined $15,000 on Sunday and warned that she risked being disqualified from the French Open over her decision to boycott her media commitments due to mental health reasons.

The Japanese star subsequently withdraw from Roland Garros on Monday, revealing she has "suffered long bouts of depression" and will now "take some time away from the court".

"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," she wrote on Twitter.

Tellingly, Osaka also revealed how the controversy surrounding her maiden grand slam triumph at the US Open in 2018 is still affecting her mental health.

Osaka lifted the trophy to a chorus of boos from fans who were furious that Serena Williams had copped three code violations in the final - a match that is more remembered for Williams' battle with chair umpire Carlos Ramos than Osaka's incredible win.

Osaka said she had suffered bouts of depression since winning that first grand slam title and that talking to the media triggered her anxiety.

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"I never wanted to be be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer," she said on Monday. "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.

"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 wanna apologise especially to all the cool journalists who 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."

Naomi Osaka, pictured here in action at the French Open.
Naomi Osaka in action at the French Open. (Photo by Aurelien Morissard/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka explains French Open media boycott

Osaka's Twitter post continued: "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.

"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."

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French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton read a statement to the press, saying: "First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka.

"The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland Garros is unfortunate. 

"We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery and we look forward to having her at our tournament next year."

Wimbledon starts in four weeks and it remains to be seen whether Osaka, whose next tournament is scheduled to be in Berlin in two weeks' time, will play on grass, where she has also struggled.

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