The Grand Slams vow to support Naomi Osaka following shocking French Open withdrawal

0
255

The Grand Slams have pledged to work to improve the player experience at major tournaments following Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open.

A strong joint statement from the majors on Sunday threatening Osaka with disqualification and a ban from future tournaments if she did not reverse her decision not to fulfil her media commitments fanned the flames of what had already become a major talking point.

Osaka opened up on the long bouts of depression she has suffered since being thrust into the global spotlight by winning her first major title at the US Open in 2018 and the anxieties she experiences around talking to the media.

Another statement on Tuesday took a very different tone, with the majors offering the world No 2 their help.

It read: “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 statement continued: “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.

“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.”

Osaka stunned the tennis world when she pulled out of the French Open after being fined and threatened with expulsion for declining to face the media after her first-round match

The Slams did, though, again stress the need for fairness to be maintained through regulations.

“Together, as a community, we will continue to improve the player experience at our tournaments, including as it relates to media,” the statement read.

“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.

“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.”

SKYSPORTS