Grand Slams Scramble To Save Face After Naomi Osaka Withdraws From French Open
by Sean Randall | June 1st, 2021, 4:01 pm

All Naomi Osaka wanted to do was get through the French Open without having to answer why she isn’t that good on clay. Now, she’s decided to take matters into her own hands and just not even bother with the rest of the French Open.

What a head-spinning turn of events.

Once Osaka put out her statement that she wasn’t going to the do any press conferences in Paris, the Grand Slams got together and threatened to default and possibly suspend her down the line.

A bully move? Yup!

Instead of facing more than just fines and who knows what else, in a unprecedented move Osaka simply decided to just leave the tournament and go home. And in her new statement yesterday, she revealed she’s been battling depression and that she might need to take a break from tennis.

Predictably, the response has been largely positive for Osaka while negative for the tournament, the Slams and the WTA.

So terrified of losing Osaka and facing even more heat from the public, the Slams/tours are now scrambling to make things right with the 4-time Slam champion.

“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,” they four Slams wrote in a statement.

“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. ”

So in just 24 hours or so, the Slams went from “we will default you if don’t attend our press conferences to we will do all that we can to help you.”

Osaka’s a tough read. Was/is she battling depression? She’s won three Slams since that incredible first US Open, but we have to take her at her word.

Is she an introvert? She sure is not shy about taking public stances that will put her right in the white-hot spotlight. And she’s sure not shy about endorsing products which I’ve read bank her $50M/year.

Regardless, the Slams and tennis do not want to lose Osaka (and let’s be honest, Osaka needs tennis, as well). She’s the new TV star. And once Serena hangs it up, Osaka will take over the reigns as the single biggest draw in the women’s game, maybe even in the sport post-Big 3.

The Slams know this. Wimbledon doesn’t want to lose Osaka. The US Open does want to lose Osaka and the Australian Open doesn’t want to lose Osaka. Of course the WTA has to have her. They can’t have her off the tour or pulling out of events like this. Not age the ripe age of 23.

Money talks. And that’s a lot of money at stake here.

So where do we go from here? Well, after this past week Osaka has now vaulted herself up to the Federer/Nadal/Djokovic/Serena level (she’s been all over the general news in the U.S.). Where she can start making rules, making changes. She’s already making statements, both on and off the court.

She has the public support, player support and even a lot of media support (especially non-tennis media). So it’s Osaka vs the Tour. And as we have seen in other sports and in tennis, in this new age of sports-is-entertainment, the stars usually win.

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3 Comments for Grand Slams Scramble To Save Face After Naomi Osaka Withdraws From French Open

Wog Boy Says:

Sean, you got carried away again:

“ So terrified of losing Osaka and facing even more heat from the public, the Slams/tours are now scrambling to make things right with the 4-time Slam champion.”

I read carefully their statements few times and I couldn’t see what you are seeing in them, I have seen very diplomatic, carefully crafted statement to leave the room for Osaka team to rethink their actions, but keep in mind, the moment they allows her not to participate in press conference they will allow everybody else to do so, so they might as well cancel them alltogether.
Also, looking around me, I actually didn’t find too many support for her action, maybe the people (public) in the States are different.

I don’t know how you deal with mental health problems of the sportspersons in the States but here in Australia, I follow rugby league, there are often players with mental health problems, the clubs are looking after them, they offer and provide qualified help and most importantly, the player takes a brake from the game while receiving help. Some recover and some retire, such is life.

Game doesn’t suffer nor they change the rules to accommodate player, regardless of how important is the player, game is the bigger than the player, any player.

I am sure Naomi has enough money and can afford to take a break from the game in order to sort out her problems instead of selfishly offloading them on the rest of the tour. To be honest, from the moment I saw her first time she looked emotionally unstable, I think that comes from home and control freak father.

Her actions and not the actions of GS organisers disrupted FO and the tour, if it wasn’t for her actions we wouldn’t have tour (re)action.

Dave Says:


She’s definitely introverted. Introverts can be so misunderstood. They are much deeper people and are more creative than extroverts. And actually have very meaningful things to say, but need to build up the courage to say them. In a world where the vast majority of people are more extroverted, it’s not easy for more introverted people to stay true to themselves and not feel like they need to adapt to other people when in a public setting. Here is a Ted Talk to help with understanding what an introverted person looks like.

This is absolutely not meant to attack you or your comments in any way. A lot of people misunderstand introverts. And just to clarify there is no one that is 100% extroverted or 100% introverted. But most people will lean more one way than the other. There are some that have a close to 50/50 balance, which makes things a lot easier for them.

Van Persie Says:

Yeah, right. Even Rafa is very supportive :)
I like his body language. Says it all.

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