Naomi Osaka withdraws from Wimbledon, marking second Grand Slam exited
Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from Wimbledon, her agent said via the Associated Press. It marks the second consecutive Grand Slam in which she has withdrawn following the French Open last month.
Osaka is "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," her agent Stuart Duguid wrote in an email Thursday, via the AP.
She will compete for Japan at the Tokyo Olympics starting next month.
Osaka taking time away from court
The 23-year-old withdrew from the French Open following the first round after a controversy over her media blackout. She cited her mental health in the decision and closed a note on Twitter by saying she would take time away.
The four-time Grand Slam champion also did not compete in the Berlin WTA 5000, a tune-up for the upcoming Slam. The tournament announced she would not compete as originally planned.
Osaka remains the No. 2 ranked tennis player in world rankings. She has two victories at the Australian Open and two at the U.S. Open, which is scheduled to begin weeks after the Olympics end.
She has only made it to the Round of 32 at Wimbledon. The competition was canceled last year because of COVID-19.
French Open fined Osaka for media blackout
Osaka announced days before her first-round match at the French Open that she would not be speaking with media during the tournament. It created a stir with talking heads, fans and peers. Osaka followed through with it after her first-round victory.
The French Open fined her $15,000 and the four Grand Slams released a joint statement advising her if she continued to shirk media responsibilities she could face future suspensions.
Osaka then opted to step away, writing in a statement on Twitter she "never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer." She said she has suffered from long bouts of depression since her 2018 U.S. Open victory that catapulted her into superstardom.
She said she wrote privately to the organizers at Roland-Garros to apologize and hoped they could work with the WTA Tour to adjust the current system of players speaking with media so it works for all.
French Open says tried to reach out to Osaka
French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton responded to Osaka's withdraw at that tournament with a brief statement, calling it unfortunate.
"We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery, and we look forward to having Naomi at our Tournament next year," Moretton said.
"As all the Grand Slams, the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, we remain very committed to all athletes’ well-being and to continually improving every aspect of players’ experience in our Tournament, including with the Media, like we have always strived to do."
At the close of the tournament over the weekend, French Tennis Federation director general Amelie Oudea-Castera said organizers tried to "engage with Naomi several times, several ways, including on the practice courts, including in writing" before she withdrew. They noted that they did not fine her the maximum amount, but instead wanted to show a "progressive escalation should she continue not to commit to her obligations."
Who is the favorite at Wimbledon with Osaka out?
Osaka was a favorite to win at Wimbledon alongside Ashleigh Barty even though she had never advanced through the third round in three appearances.
Barty remains the favorite at +500 at BetMGM with Serena Williams, still chasing Grand Slam No. 24, at +650 odds.
Osaka remains the favorite at the U.S. Open, which will have full capacity fans as announced on Thursday. She is a +450 favorite at BetMGM, leading Williams (+700) and Barty (+750).
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