Naomi Osaka pulls out of Wimbledon, targets Tokyo Olympics

After withdrawing from the French Open in the early stages, her decision to skip another major tournament will be a big blow for the grasscourt Grand Slam.

Naomi Osaka in a file photo. (Image: Twitter/@naomiosaka)

World No.2 Naomi Osaka has pulled out of Wimbledon, but the 23-year-old has stated that she will compete in the end-of-July Tokyo Olympics. The Japanese star is expected to be one of the faces of the Tokyo Games in her home country and will be deemed a favourite for the gold medal. However, Osaka’s absence from a second consecutive Grand Slam will be missed by her fans. After withdrawing from the French Open in the early stages, her decision to skip another major tournament will be a big blow for the grasscourt Grand Slam. She is the latest high-profile player to withdraw from the forthcoming Grand Slam. Rafael Nadal, the two-time Wimbledon champion, also revealed on Thursday that he will be skipping this year’s championship as well as the Olympics.

The four-time major champion made the announcement via a team statement. “Naomi won’t be playing Wimbledon this year,” the statement read. “She 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.”

Meanwhile, the All England Club said in a statement, “Naomi Osaka will be greatly missed by all of us at Wimbledon this year, but we completely understand her decision. We wish her a happy time with her friends and family and look forward to welcoming her back to Wimbledon next year.” On June 28th, the Championships will return after a two-year hiatus.

Osaka’s withdrawal from Wimbledon comes just two weeks after she pulled out of the French Open due to mental health issues. The Japanese star stated before the start of the French Open that she would not participate in post-match media interaction during the event due to the toll it can take on players’ mental health. The 23-year-old defeated Patricia Maria Tig 6-4, 7-6 in the first round, and was due to face Ana Bogdan in the second round.

Reasons behind French Open withdrawal

It was then the World No.2 explained her decision to pull out of the tournament in a statement posted on social media. She wrote, “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. 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.”

In her post, Osaka had said that she would take some time away from the court. “I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences,” she added. “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 apologizing 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. Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, love you guys I’ll see you when I see you.”

In the upcoming Olympics, the tennis event runs from Saturday, July 24th, through Sunday, August 1st, with the Tokyo Olympics starting on July 23rd.

Sportslumo Desk

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