Tennis: Osaka pulls out of Wimbledon but aims for Olympics

Osaka (above)  quit the French Open after organisers fined her when she refused to attend mandatory post-match press conferences.
Osaka (above) quit the French Open after organisers fined her when she refused to attend mandatory post-match press conferences.PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS

LOS ANGELES (AFP, REUTERS) – Japanese star Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from Wimbledon, her agent confirmed on Thursday (June 17), weeks after the world number two pulled out of the French Open citing her struggle with depression and anxiety.

“Naomi won’t be playing Wimbledon this year,” Osaka’s agent Stuart Duguid said in an email to AFP.

“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.”

On Wednesday, Wimbledon organisers said the 23-year-old four-time Grand Slam champion was expected to take part in the championships, which start on June 28.

“At this point in time she’s entered into the championships and we haven’t received confirmation that she won’t compete,” All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton said.

Osaka has been in the spotlight since withdrawing from the French Open.

The four-time Grand Slam winner had announced in the build-up to the French Open that she would not face the media and stuck to her stance, which led to a US$15,000 (S$20,000) fine.

A strongly-worded letter from the board of the four Grand Slam tournaments followed, warning her of possible expulsion from Roland Garros and future majors - after which she announced her withdrawal on social media.

French Open organisers defended their handling of the situation but accepted that the governing bodies need to do better on mental health issues.

Osaka's withdrawal is a second blow to Wimbledon after 20-times Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal also announced he was skipping the British tournament following a gruelling claycourt season.

Osaka lost in the third round of Wimbledon in 2017 and 2018 and bowed out in the first round in 2019.

Last year’s tournament was cancelled due to coronavirus.

Born to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, Osaka grew up idolising 23-times Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and turned professional in 2013 aged 15.