The likes of Gene Simmons and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea have thrown their support behind tennis star Naomi Osaka after her withdrawal from the French Open.
The four-time major winner announced that she would be pulling out to allow people to “get back to focusing on the tennis” following her controversial refusal to speak to press during the competition.
Last week, Osaka announced that she would not be speaking to the media because of mental health reasons. As press conferences are a requirement for all players, she was fined $15,000 by the French Open.
In his own tweet, Flea simply wrote: “Naomi Osaka rules”.
In her statement regarding her withdrawal, Osaka explained that the timing of her previous announcement was “not ideal” but that she has suffered “long bouts of depression” since winning the US Open three years ago.
This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago,” she said.
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“I think now 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.
“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly I would never trivialise mental health or use the term lightly.
She continued: “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.
“I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can. 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“I announced it preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.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,” she concluded.
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Check out the full statement from Naomi Osaka that was supported by Gene Simmons and Flea:
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021