Naomi Osaka: All four Grand Slams — Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open — have come forward in support of Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka over her decision to withdraw from the ongoing Roland Garros. Osaka pulled out of the tournament after facing criticism from the French Open organising committee over her decision to boycott media. She said she did that for her mental health.
“On behalf of the Grand Slams, we wish to offer Naomi Osaka our support and assistance in any way possible as she takes time away from the court. She is an exceptional athlete and we look forward to her return as soon as she deems appropriate,” the four Grand Slams said in a joint statement.
Surprisingly, the statement comes after Naomi Osaka was mocked by French Open’s social media page for boycotting media. The French Open tournament director also criticised her and slapped her with a $15,000 fine for missing the press conference following her win in the 1st round.
But after facing backlash and growing support for Naomi Osaka, the Gran Slams decided to join hands in supporting her.
“Mental health is a very challenging issue, which deserves our utmost attention. It is both complex and personal, as what affects one individual does not necessarily affect another. We commend Naomi for sharing in her own words the pressures and anxieties she is feeling and we empathise with the unique pressures tennis players may face,” it said.
“While players’ wellbeing has always been a priority to the Grand Slams, our intention, together with the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, is to advance mental health and wellbeing through further actions,” the statement added.
Earlier, French Tennis Federation President Gilles Moretton issued a statement, apologising to Naomi Osaka. He said the FFT was “sorry and sad”.
“Together as a community, we will continue to improve the player experience at our tournaments, including as it relates to media. Change should come through the lens of maintaining a fair playing field, regardless of ranking or status. Sport requires rules and regulations to ensure that no player has an unfair advantage over another,” the Grand Slam statement read.
“We intend to work alongside the players, the tours, the media and the broader tennis community to create meaningful improvements. As Grand Slams, we aim to create the stage for the players to achieve the highest accolades in our sport,” it concluded. The statement was issued by Jayne Hrdlicka (Tennis Australia Chair & President), Gilles Moretton (FFT President), Ian Hewitt (AELTC Chairman) and Mike McNulty (USTA Chairman of the Board & President).
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