Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from next month’s rescheduled ATP/WTA Indian Wells tournament in California, organisers confirmed Wednesday. The 23-year-old Japanese star is a former champion at Indian Wells, winning the title in 2018 with victory over Daria Kasatkina. Osaka said earlier this month she planned to take an indefinite break from tennis after an upset early exit from the US Open.
“I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match,” Osaka said following her third round defeat to Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez. “I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.” Osaka, who dropped out of the top five in the latest world rankings, has been in the spotlight this year after withdrawing from the French Open and skipping Wimbledon over mental health issues.
Osaka said her problems were exacerbated by speaking to the media after matches. Osaka had also made an early exit from Cincinnati last month, and had bowed out of the Tokyo Olympics in the early rounds in July. “Hey everyone, this isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my wellbeing is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.
“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly. “The truth is I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.
“Anyone that knows me knows I am introverted, and anyone that has seen me at tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety.