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French Open Exec Says Naomi Osaka Was Contacted Before Withdrawal, Explains $15K Fine

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJune 13, 2021

AP Photo/Christophe Ena

French Open organizers attempted to speak with Naomi Osaka before the Japanese star withdrew from the tournament.

"We really tried to engage with Naomi several times, several ways, including on the practice courts, including in writing," said Amelie Oudea-Castera, the French tennis federation director general, per Samuel Petrequin of the Associated Press.

Osaka announced before the tournament she would not do any press at Roland Garros, which led to a $15,000 fine from the governing body.

Oudea-Castera noted they could have fined the 23-year-old up to $20,000 for skipping the mandatory press conference but chose a lower amount.

"On the $15,000 fine, you noticed we did not want to put that fine at the maximum," Oudea-Castera said. "On purpose, we only wanted to be at 15 because we wanted to send a message that we wouldn't go to a default right away. We wanted to have a progressive escalation should she continue not to commit to her obligations."

After winning her first match versus Patricia Maria Tig, Osaka withdrew from the tournament, citing her mental health:

NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ @naomiosaka

pic.twitter.com/LN2ANnoAYD

"I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris," she wrote.

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"The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland-Garros is unfortunate," French Tennis Federation President Gilles Moretton said. "We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery, and we look forward to having Naomi at our Tournament next year."

The initial statement by organizers also noted they "tried unsuccessfully" to speak to Osaka.

"We need engagement from the players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experiences," the statement said.

As Oudea-Castera explained Sunday, they had also written to her to "remind the rules of the game."

Osaka was the No. 2 seed in the women's draw, which unseeded Barbora Krejcikova ultimately won. The Japanese star also withdrew from an upcoming tournament in Berlin ahead of Wimbledon, which is scheduled to begin June 28.

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