June 22, 2021

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Naomi Osaka withdraws from second tournament, Wimbledon status in doubt

2 min read

Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from a grasscourt tune-up tournament in Berlin, scheduled to begin the week after the French Open. 

Reuters reported on Monday that the world-ranked No. 2 tennis star has opted out of the upcoming Berlin WTA 5000, an event that, before Osaka’s withdrawal, featured 15 of the top 20 world ranked women’s tennis players. 

Osaka’s decision to not participate in the event casts doubt on whether she will join the field at Wimbledon, which starts on June 28. Osaka has won the Australian Open twice and the U.S. Open twice, but has never advanced past the third round at Wimbledon.

“We have received notification Naomi Osaka cannot start in Berlin. After consulting her management, she will take a break,” Berlin event organisers said in a statement to Reuters.

MORE: Roger Federer explains decision to withdraw from the French Open

The decision by Osaka comes just a week removed from her exit from the French Open, when she cited her mental health issues. 

In her announcement that she would not play the remainder of the French Open, Osaka said that she was “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.”

Osaka began the Roland-Garros by saying that she would not speak to the media as she felt people did not show regard for the mental health of athletes, and that often, questions during press conferences bring doubt to the minds of tennis players. 

She did not speak to the press following her first-round win and was fined by the French Open, with the heads of the Grand Slam tournaments issued a statement that said her continued absence from media obligations may result in disqualifications.

Several fellow athletes, including Serena and Venus Williams, offered support, while the relaxation app Calm pledged to pay Grand Slam fines for future players skipping media along with donations to Laureas Sport, a youth sports charity. Calm already made one $15,000 donation to Laureas Sport in support of Osaka, matching the fine issued to her. 

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