June 18, (THEWILL)- On the day when world number two male tennis player Rafael Nadal announced he was withdrawing from Wimbledon and the Olympics to recuperate from the strain of the clay-court season, world number two female player Naomi Osaka has also indicated that she was withdrawing from Wimbledon.
Osaka’s decision comes after she was fined for prioritising her mental health over press conferences during the French Open, which ultimately led the Japanese player to pull out of Roland Garros prematurely, after only the first round.
One of Osaka’s representatives clarified her client’s position be saying: “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.”
The absence of one of the brightest young stars of the modern game will be a huge loss for the tournament in much the same way as Nadal’s, after the Spaniard pulled out for physical reasons which, as THEWILL reported, he explained thusly:
“The goal is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy, that is to compete at the highest level and keep fighting for those professional and personal goals at he maximum level of competition.”
Earlier on Thursday, before the withdrawals of the number two broke, Sally Bolton, the All England Club chief executive had said that Wimbledon organizers were in contact with Osaka and other players about this year’s media setup to make it easier to participate.
She said: “We have started a consultation. Of course, that consultation needs to include not just the players, but the media and all of those engaged in that space. We are always striving to do things better.”
The efforts were partly a response to the conversation started around Osaka and her mental health considerations that made her boycott the press in Paris, which earned her a $15,000 fine and the threats of a default from a joint statement of all four Slams.
“We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences,” the four Grand Slam tournaments wrote in a joint statement.
“As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions.”
After she pulled out of Paris on May 31, Osaka wrote that she planned to take some time away from the court and, as THEWILL reported, she had already pulled out of this week’s Berlin WTA 5000 grass-court tournament ahead of Wimbledon.
While the dust around the withdrawals of the two number twos was still settling, another male player announced that he was also not going to be available for the summer Games in Japan.
Dominic Thiem, currently ranked fifth in the world of male tennis and who arguably has had a shaky form that is far from his best in 2021, had taken stock of his run of disappointing results and decided that it is best for him to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics.
He stated the decision-making process in a media statement that read: “After talking with my team and analysing the situation I have taken the very difficult decision to withdraw from competing in the Tokyo Olympics.
“For me, like all athletes, taking part in the Olympics and representing my country is a huge honour and that makes this decision even tougher. However, 2021 did not start as expected and I don’t feel ready to play my best in Tokyo.
“These last two weeks I have been training hard – and I’m starting to improve my conditioning and concentration little by little. My goal is to work hard the coming weeks, give my best at Wimbledon and keep training and hopefully defend my US Open title.”
He wrapped up on an encouraging note: “I wish the entire Austrian team travelling to Tokyo all the best. I am young and I hope to be able to play for Austria at the Olympics in Paris 2024.”