Naomi Osaka withdraws from Indian Wells amid mental health battle

Naomi Osaka: Pundits discuss French Open withdrawal

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Naomi Osaka has confirmed her withdrawal from the upcoming BNP Paribas Masters in Indian Wells. The tournament made the announcement on its official Twitter account which read: “2018 Champion Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from #BNPPO21.

“We look forward to seeing you in 2022, Naomi.”

The 23-year-old announced she would be taking an indefinite break from tennis following her third-round loss at the US Open.

In an emotional post-match press conference, she said: “I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.

“This is very hard to articulate. Basically, I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. Sorry.”

She gave a further insight into how she has been feeling on the court and admitted she doesn’t feel very happy even when she wins.

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“I feel like for me, recently, when I win I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief,” she stated.

“And then, when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal. I didn’t really want to cry.

“I guess we’re all dealing with some stuff, but I know that I’m dealing with some stuff.”

The Japanese star’s struggles became visible to the public following her decision to pull out of the French Open and Wimbledon to prioritise her mental health.

She returned for the 2020 Olympics which took place in her home country and Osaka lit the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony.

However, she was unable to bring home a medal as she crashed out in the third round to Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets.

In the tennis superstar’s three-part Netflix documentary series, she was revealed she has battled with anxiety and mental health since 2018.

That was the year she won her first grand slam, beating Serena Williams in straight sets to win the US Open.

The match featured an outburst from Williams at chair umpire Carlos Ramos and Osaka received the trophy amid a chorus of boos from the spectators aimed at Ramos.

Since Osaka has spoken out about her mental health, other athletes have found the courage to do the same.

At this summer’s Olympic Games, gymnastics great Simone Biles pulled out of several events and expressed the importance of prioritisng her mental health.

Cricketer Ben Stokes has taken some time away from the sport for the same reason and Aston Villa centre-back Tyrone Mings said he’d sought help to deal with his anxiety during Euro 2020.

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