Tennis star Naomi Osaka said on Monday she wanted to be in great shape at the Olympics and would attend press conferences, after withdrawing from several tournaments, citing her problems with depression and anxiety.
The world number two told Japanese national broadcaster NHK she was preparing to play at home in the pandemic-postponed Tokyo Games, after withdrawing from Wimbledon and Roland Garros.
“I’m gradually preparing to be in top form for the Olympics,” the 23-year-old wrote in a message posted by the broadcaster.
“Ever since I first gained the world’s attention, I have always had bouts of anxiety. This is particularly the case with the approach of major competitions.
Osaka sparked a mental health debate in June after dropping his Roland Garros campaign just one game after a dispute over media duties.
The Japanese player said the post-match press conferences were damaging to her mental health and compared them to “kicking people when they’re down.”
She then revealed her battle with depression and anxiety in a social media post, saying she wanted to get away from gambling in order to improve.
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In the message released by NHK, Osaka said she was “proud” to play for her country at the Games, adding that she would attend press conferences while taking her mental health into account.
She was fined $ 15,000 and threatened with disqualification from Roland Garros after refusing to honor mandatory media commitments.
Roland Garros organizers protested that they had treated her with “care and respect” after being accused of having a heavy hand.
Osaka’s agent said last month she pulled out of Wimbledon to spend time with friends and family.
But he added that she was “excited to perform in front of her home fans” at Tokyo 2020, which begins on July 23.
Originally posted as Osaka does a stunning Olympic backflip