naomi osaka
May 30, 2021 - French Open - Naomi Osaka reacts during her first round match against Romania's Patricia Maria Tig REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

Women’s tennis world No. 2 Naomi Osaka, a Valley Stream native, has withdrawn from the Wimbledon championship for personal reasons but will be ready for the Tokyo Olympics, her agent said on Thursday.

Osaka quit the French Open following her first round victory after organisers fined her $15,000 and threatened her with expulsion from the tournament when she refused to attend mandatory post-match press conferences.

The 23-year-old, who said she has “social anxiety”, explained that media’s line of questioning after games impacted her mental well-being.

“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,” Osaka‘s agent told Reuters via email.

The four-time Grand Slam winner had announced in the build-up to the French Open that she would not face the media and stuck to her stance.

A strongly-worded letter from the board of the four Grand Slam tournaments followed, warning her of possible expulsion from Roland Garros and future majors – after which she announced her withdrawal on social media.

The reaction to her withdrawal put French Open organisers on the back foot. Although they defended their handling of the situation, they accepted that the governing bodies need to do better on mental health issues.

Osaka‘s withdrawal is a second blow to Wimbledon after 20-times Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal also announced he was skipping the grasscourt major following a gruelling claycourt season.

Born to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, Osaka grew up idolising 23-times Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and turned professional in 2013 aged 15.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Pritha Sarkar)

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