Naomi Osaka step back from Wimbledon, aim for Tokyo Olympics
Naomi Osaka, Japanese professional tennis player, is set to be one of the faces of the Tokyo Olympics, where she will be aiming for a gold medal for the hosts.
Tennis star Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from Wimbledon, according to her agency, just weeks after withdrawing from the French Open due to depression and anxiety. "Naomi will not be competing in Wimbledon this year," stated Osaka's agent, Stuart Duguid. "She is spending time with friends and family. She will be ready for the Olympics and is looking forward to playing in front of her home supporters."
Wimbledon organisers confirmed on Wednesday that the 23-year-old four-time Grand Slam winner would compete in the championships, which begin on June 28.
"At this moment in time, she's entered championships and we haven't gotten confirmation that she won't compete," said Sally Bolton, All England Club chief executive, "and we haven't received confirmation that she won't compete."
Since withdrawing from the French Open, Osaka has been in the limelight. Reportedly, she was fined $15,000 and faced with exclusion from Roland Garros for failing to meet statutory media obligations.
After being criticised for being too harsh, the French Open organisers claimed that they had handled her with "care and respect."
Osaka exited Wimbledon in the third round in 2017 and 2018, and in the first round in 2019. The competition was cancelled last year due to coronavirus.
Rafael Nadal, the two-time Wimbledon winner, said earlier Thursday that he would be boycotting this year's competition as well as the Olympics in order to "prolong my career."
Wimbledon is Osaka's second withdrawal from a tournament after she withdrew from the French Open after just one match.
She also backed out of a WTA competition in Berlin after Roland Garros.
The Japanese star is set to be one of the faces of the Tokyo Olympics, where she will be vying for a gold medal for the host country.
Osaka is one of the most promising female tennis players to emerge in recent years, having already won four Grand Slam championships - the 2018 and 2020 US Opens, as well as the 2019 and 2021 Australian Opens.
Osaka, whose father is Haitian, is also a well-known social activist. During her successful US Open campaign last year, she wore bespoke face masks onto the court before each game with the names of African-American victims of racial injustice.
However, on the eve of the French Open, she surprised the tennis world by declaring she would not participate in tournament news conferences.
She subsequently disclosed that mental health concerns were the driving force for her decision to withdraw from the event, stating that she did not want to "be a distraction."
"The fact is that I've had extended episodes of depression since the US Open in 2018, and I've had a really difficult time coping with that," she added.