Novak Djokovic sends message to Naomi Osaka after French Open withdrawal


Djokovic sent a message to Osaka (Picture: Getty)

Novak Djokovic sent a message of support to Naomi Osaka after her withdrawal from the French Open.

Djokovic, the world No. 1 from Serbia, was ‘really sorry’ to hear of Osaka’s mental struggles and expressed his hope that she recovers soon.

Osaka, the world No. 2 from Japan, had announced she would not face the media during Roland Garros and was met with a fine of more than £10,000, while also receiving a threat of expulsion from the tournament.

That decision was taken out of organisers’ hands when Osaka pulled out of the event, explaining she had been suffering with depression since the 2018 US Open and that the move was an act of ‘self-care’.

‘I support her,’ said Djokovic after a resounding first-round win over Tennys Sandgren. ‘I think she was very brave to do that.

‘I’m really sorry that she is going through painful times and suffering mentally, is what I have heard. I haven’t spoken to her. But it seems like she has been struggling. I wish her all the best. I hope she recovers. She’s a very important player and brand for and person for our sport.

‘So we need to have her back. This was, I must say, very bold decision from her side. But she knows how she feels best. If she needs to take time and reflect and just recharge, you know, that’s what she needed to do, and I respect it fully.

‘I hope that she’ll come back stronger.’

After her withdrawal the four Grand Slams released a statement of support, despite threatening her with expulsion just days earlier.

‘Well, look, the Grand Slams are protecting themselves and their own business,’ Djokovic replied when asked if they’d taken too heavy-handed an approach.

‘Of course they are going to follow the rules and they are going to, you know, make sure that you are complying. Otherwise you’ll be paying fines and getting sanctioned. It’s not surprising to me that that was their reaction.

‘I mean, you know, because we are kind of used to this environment and this kind of principles of us doing interviews after every match and getting to answer questions majorly that are quite similar.

‘But it’s part of our sport. It’s part of what we do. The media is important, without a doubt. You know, it’s allowing us to have the platform to communicate with our fans, but in a more traditional way.

Osaka pulled out of the tournament (Picture: Corbis via Getty)

‘It used to be the only way how we can reach out to our fans, right, in the last five years or maybe ten years’s it’s not the case anymore. We have our own platforms, our own social media accounts through which we are able to communicate directly with fans.

‘Naomi, she’s very young and she grew up with obviously with social media and ability to speak out through her channels. Look, I can understand her very well, and I empathize with her, because I was on the wrong edge of the sword in my career many times with media. I know how it feels.’

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