Tennis phenom Naomi Osaka is still putting her personal wellbeing before the game. As The Root previously reported, Osaka dropped out of the French Open last month amid controversy over her decision not to participate in press conferences after her matches because she has “often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health, and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.” Osaka—who is currently ranked No. 2 in the world in women’s tennis—even said she was OK with paying the fines that tennis players receive for failing to speak with the press as part of their contractual obligations, but that didn’t stop her decision from becoming a whole contentious thing in the tennis world so she pulled herself back from the sport she loves so as not to be a “distraction.” Now, she’s keeping that same energy by withdrawing from this year’s Wimbledon.
ESPN reports that Osaka’s agent released a statement Thursday saying, “Naomi won’t be playing Wimbledon this year,” and that “She is taking some personal time with friends and family. She will be ready for the Olympics and is excited to play in front of her home fans.”
Wimbledon tournament organizer, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), responded to the announcement with a statement of support.
“Naomi Osaka will be greatly missed by all of us at Wimbledon this year, but we completely understand her decision,” the statement read, CNN reports. “We wish her a happy time with her friends and family and look forward to welcoming her back to Wimbledon next year.”
Since Osaka withdrew from the French Open and revealed that she had “suffered long bouts of depression” since winning her first Grand Slam title in 2018, the 23-year-old has received an outpouring of support by fellow tennis giants Venus and Serena Williams, NBA superstar Steph Curry, meditation app Calm—which offered to pay fines for athletes who wished to skip speaking to the press for mental health reasons—sports personality Steven A. Smith and more.
Fortunately, it appears that Osaka—who, on Monday, also pulled out of next week’s Berlin WTA 5000 grass-court tournament, ESPN reports—will still be in attendance for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, but even if she had to skip that one to take care of self, her real fans would understand.
We love watching Osaka play, but we want her healthy and taken care of mentally even more.