Very emotional at the press conference after the defeat in the third round of the US Open, Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka stated that she must stop playing tennis for a while and doesn’t know when to return to the court.
On Friday night, she was eliminated by young Canadian Leylah Fernandez, just 18, in a straight sets to one comeback. Osaka will not defend her title on the courts at Flushing Meadows, New York, where she was also champion in 2018.
Osaka doesn’t know when to play again — Photo: TPN/Getty Images
– I’m at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis game. I think I’ll stop playing for a while – said the Japanese, who has become a symbol of the struggle for mental health care, in sport and beyond.
Osaka left Roland Garros this year after raising the issue of his difficulty in participating in the mandatory press conferences. At the time, she said she was going through long periods of depression, which began after her US Open title in 2018. Nor did she play Wimbledon in the aftermath.
She returned at the Tokyo Olympics, when she had the honor of lighting the pyre at the Opening Ceremony. But it was eliminated in the third round of the tournament, for the Czech Marketa Vondrousova.
– I feel that for me, recently, when I win, I don’t feel happy. I feel one more relief. And when I lose, I feel really sad. I don’t think this is normal – concluded Osaka, current number three in the world.
Remember the post where Naomi Osaka gives up Roland Garros
“Hello everyone. This is a situation that I never imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. focus on tennis in Paris. I never wanted to be a distraction and I confess that the timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.
More importantly, I would never trivialize ‘mental health’ or use the term lightly. The truth is, I’ve been suffering from long bouts of depression since the 2018 US Open and I have a hard time dealing with it.
Everyone who knows me knows I’m an introvert, and anyone who’s seen me at a tournament will notice that I often wear headphones. It helps me deal with anxiety.
Tennis journalists have always been polite to me (and I’d like to apologize to all the nice journalists I may have hurt), but I’m not a natural public speaker and I feel a lot of anxiety before speaking to the world press. I get really nervous and I find it stressful to always try to engage and give the best answers I can.
So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious. So I thought the best way to take care of myself would be not to attend press conferences. I announced this in advance because I believe the rules are partly dated and I wanted to draw attention to that.
I privately wrote my apology to the tournament organization and said that I would like to talk to them after the tournament as slams are intense.
I’m going to spend some time off the court now, but when the time is right, I would like to discuss ways to make things better for the players, the press and the fans. Anyway, I hope everyone is safe and well. Love you all”