- Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the 2021 French Open.
- Osaka was fined $15,000 for missing her media obligations after the first round.
- She had the fifth best odds to win the tournament at online sports book Bet365.
Naomi Osaka announced her withdrawal from the French Open tennis tournament on Monday after she was fined for missing her media obligations.
In her lengthy statement on social media, the no. 2 ranked women’s tennis player in the world said that she is “taking time away from the court” because she “never wanted to be a distraction” and that her withdrawal “is the best thing for the tournament, the other players, and her well-being.”
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
Osaka made a stir when she announced last week that she would not be speaking to the media during the tournament to protect her mental health. Osaka revealed that she dealt with anxiety and depression since winning her first tennis grand slam at the 2018 U.S. Open and explained that talking to the media made her nervous.
Choosing Not to Speak to the Media
“Naomi Osaka has chosen not to speak to the news media at this year’s French Open to protect her mental health, she said — an expression of standing up for herself in the workplace. Bravo to her.” https://t.co/EwdWg8ggVY pic.twitter.com/Cm2ox0rc8r
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) May 30, 2021
Osaka announced last Wednesday that she would not be participating in any news conferences during the tournament, citing her mental health as her main reason for her decision. On Sunday, she did what she said she would and paid for it, literally.
The four-time grand slam winner was fined $15,000 after skipping her mandatory news conference after he first round win on Sunday. Aside from the fine, French Open organizers threatened her with harsher sanctions, including a tournament default if she continued to miss her media obligations.
Interestingly, Osaka also drew warnings of stiff penalties, including disqualification and suspension, from the other Grand Slam tournaments if she continues to avoid speaking to the media. That came as a surprise especially since the WTA issued a statement on Sunday issuing support to Osaka’s mental health issues.
𝗟𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗦𝗧 𝗪𝗢𝗠𝗘𝗡’𝗦 𝗦𝗜𝗡𝗚𝗟𝗘𝗦 𝗢𝗗𝗗𝗦 🎾
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— Live Tennis (@livetennis) May 30, 2021
While Bet365 had her with the fifth best odds to win the tournament, Osaka was the odds on favorite to win her quarter at the best tennis betting sites and with her top competitor in no.7 Bianca Andreescu exiting in the first round, her path to the semifinals looked bright. If Osaka won the 4th quarter of the women’s draw as expected, she wold have gone on to face the winner of the 3rd quarter.
No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka is currently favored to win that quarter while no. 12 Petra Kvitova and 23-time grand slam winner Serena Williams are the other top names in that part of the draw. That meant that Osaka wasn’t going to face either tournament betting favorite Iga Swiatek or no. 1 Ashleigh Barty until the final.
But then again Osaka has never made it past the third round at Roland Garros in four previous tries. She has a 7-4 record in France, and the French Open is one of two Grand Slam tournaments that she hasn’t won yet. Still this was a good year for her after winning the year’s first Grand Slam in Melbourne.