As one of the most enigmatic stars of the current generation, Naomi Osaka has fans in her millions. The young star has quickly lit up the sport not only for her outstanding on the court performances, but her enlightening, genuine personality off the court. Part of that appeal, though, also stems from how Osaka has regularly spoken of the kinds of things that athletes often dodge speak about in any meaningful detail. The mental health and wellbeing of athletes is often a topic that rarely gets approached; Osaka, though, has been more than open in the past.
The 23-year-old, though, has announced that she will be stepping back from Wimbledon this year. The four-time Grand Slam winner intends to spend time with family. This follows Osaka’s recent exit from the French Open, when she withdrew amid controversy on her decision surrounding press conferences. However, the No. 2 rated star is expected to return for the 2021 Summer Olympics, which will take place in Tokyo.
A $15,000 fine had been dispensed for failing to hold a press conference following her win at Roland Garros. This opened up an extensive discussion, and the threat of expulsion was made. Instead, Osaka withdrew from the tournament, stating a need to ‘protect her mental health’.
Now, Osaka will miss another Grand Slam tournament as she finds her best mental frame of mind.
When will Naomi Osaka return to action?
At the moment, it is expected that her return will indeed take place in Tokyo. This will give her a chance to play in front of a home crowd, and would offer an ideal opportunity to return to the court in competitive action. For now, though, fans should get used to major tournaments until the Olympics not involving the hugely impressive star.
The Japanese star is rated as one of the finest players of her generation, and her skills absolutely inspire many young fans. However, arguably even more inspiring is a player with an open and honest approach to the pressures and challenges of life at the apex of a sport.
In a statement via her team, the situation was explained as: ‘Naomi won’t be playing Wimbledon this year. 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.’
As a player who quickly rose to stardom, Osaka has admitted in the past that the pace of her ascension was hard to handle. A self-noted introvert and a thoughtful personality, the pressures of press conferences and the media that can come with sporting stardom can be a natural clash for such an individual. For tennis, though, the best thing that can happen is that Osaka can return, she can find form, and that more can be done to help players focus on the thing that matters most for fans: being able to give their absolute best on the court.