Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka arrived back at her $7million Los Angeles mansion on Tuesday, the day after spectacularly withdrawing from the French Open amid a row over her decision not to do interviews during the tournament to protect her mental health.
Osaka, the highest-paid female athlete in the world, flew in from Paris shortly after revealing her three-year struggle with depression and dropping out of the tournament.
‘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,’ Osaka said in an Instagram post on Monday, in which she said she struggled with depression and anxiety.
On Tuesday top tennis stars continued to speak out on the controversy with men’s world number three Rafael Nadal saying that although he sympathized with Osaka, the media was an essential part of the job.
Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker was more critical, saying stars can’t have ‘half the cake’ and said that Osaka’s career might be in jeopardy.
He said: ‘If she can’t cope with the media in Paris, she can’t cope with the media at Wimbledon, she can’t cope with the media at the US Open.’
Naomi Osaka, 23, is seen on Tuesday afternoon arriving home to her Beverly Hills residence, the day after she shocked the sporting world by announcing she was withdrawing from the French Open
Osaka was seen in a Mambacita tracksuit and her Beats by Dre headphones – provided by one of her sponsors
Osaka bought the house in Beverly Hills from Nick Jonas in August 2019.
The five bedroom, 4,000-sq-foot property has an extensive terrace built into the hillside, with stunning views across Los Angeles
The Japanese athlete was seen getting out of a black SUV on Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles, having arrived home from Paris.
Osaka played on Sunday, easily beating Patricia Maria Tig to advance to the second round. She withdrew from the tournament the following day
Osaka was seen on Wednesday afternoon returning to her $6.9 million Beverly Hills home, that she bought in August 2019 from singer Nick Jonas. Osaka divides her time between LA and Florida, where she bases herself in Boca Raton.
The 4,000-square-foot five bedroom home, built in 1965, has spectacular views across Los Angeles from a massive wooden deck, cantilevered over the valley below, with an infinity pool.
The 23-year-old was wearing a $332 tie-dye tracksuit from the Mambacita range launched on May 1 by Vanessa Bryant, widow of the late NBA star Kobe Bryant who is one of Osaka’s heroes.
The sporting superstar wore white headphones by Beats by Dre – one of her sponsors – and carried her kit in a Louis Vuitton holdall.
Later, a man was seen delivering balloons in the shape of various letters to Osaka’s home.
The letters appeared to include N, I, and C – perhaps part of a larger phrase that was being spelt out for the star.
A man is seen delivering balloons in the shape of various letters to Osaka’s home.
The letters appeared to include N, I, and C – perhaps part of a larger phrase that was being spelt out for the sporting superstar
The world number two was in action in Paris on Sunday, and appeared to have resolved to pay the $15,000 fine and continue playing.
By Monday, however, she had dropped out of the tournament
Osaka appeared to have come straight home off the flight on Tuesday, and was still wearing her face mask and comfortable travel clothes
Osaka, four-time Grand Slam winner who is ranked second in the world, played her first match on Sunday, defeating Romanian Patricia Maria Tig, ranked 63rd.
She had tweeted the previous Wednesday that she was not going to do any press conferences, saying they were done with ‘no regard for athletes’ mental health’.
Osaka was fined $15,000 by officials for refusing to appear in front of the media, and 언브로큰 a joint statement from all four Grand Slam organizers said she will face ‘more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions’ if she continues her boycott. Five days after her tweet, she announced she was withdrawing, to protect her mental health.
Tennis stars have continued to weigh in on the media boycott.
Nadal, trying to win his 14th Roland Garros title over the next fortnight, spoke of his ‘respect’ for Osaka and her decision, but said he felt press conferences were necessary to promote sports.
‘We as sports people, I mean, we need to be ready to accept the questions and to try to produce an answer, no?’ he said on Friday.
‘I understand her, but on the other hand, for me, without the press, without the people who normally travel, who are writing the news and achievements that we are having around the world, we probably will not be the athletes that we are today.
‘We wouldn’t have the recognition that we have around the world, and we will not be that popular, no?’
Boris Becker, a three-time Wimbledon champion, said: ‘Without the media there isn’t any prize money, there isn’t any contracts.
‘And you don’t get half the cake.
I hated the media personally. I didn’t like to speak to journalists but I had to do it.’
The sporting superstar is now planning on taking some time off from the sport.
Organizers of Wimbledon and the US Open will be hoping that Osaka – one of the biggest stars of the sport – will decide to return in time for their tournaments later this summer
Osaka, who was born in the Japanese city that bears her name, has said that she intends to represent Japan at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
However, she has also said she is unsure if the games will go ahead, due to COVID in her home country
Becker added: ‘She has cited that she is pulling out of the tournament altogether because she can’t cope with it. That raises much bigger questions for me because if she can’t cope with the media in Paris, she can’t cope with the media at Wimbledon, she can’t cope with the media at the US Open.
‘I almost feel like her career is in danger because of mental health issues and that we should take very seriously.’
Ashleigh Barty, the women’s world number one, agreed that press conferences were essential.
‘We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players,’ the Australian said on Friday.
‘I can’t really comment on what Naomi is feeling or her decisions she makes.
‘At times press conferences are hard, of course, but it’s also not something that bothers me.
I’ve never had problems answering questions or being completely honest with you guys. It’s not something that’s ever fazed me too much.’
Osaka wore Nike sneakers and a Nike baseball cap.
Nike is one of her many sponsors, which jointly brought in $50 million of her $55.2 million earnings last year
Osaka’s kit bag appeared to be stuffed with sneakers and tennis racquets.
Her tracksuit was a tribute to LA Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, who helped her with her anxiety and mental health issues after her agent connected them
Osaka is seen on Sunday, during her first-round match against Patricia Maria Tig, from Romania
The house was built in 1965 and is set high above Los Angeles, with expansive views of the valley beneath
Osaka’s modern home is protected by extensive shrubbery around the sides, and a large wall in front
Balloons were seen flying at the house on Tuesday, presumably to welcome Osaka home.
The tournament in Paris continues until June 13, and Osaka would have expected to have spent several more weeks in France – even though clay, on which the French Open is played, is not her strongest surface
Osaka’s sister Mari had suggested on Reddit that the star didn’t want to be reminded of her record playing on clay, which isn’t as strong.
She deleted that post afterwards.
Her coach, earlier in the day, tried to do damage control by telling German news site Der Spiegel: ‘In the USA, the issue of athletes wanting more freedom in their dealings with the press is very topical right now.
‘They simply don’t want to be threatened with punishments if they don’t feel well for a day.
Naomi knows that it’s important to talk to the press.
‘She doesn’t want to change things for herself alone. It’s a matter of principle for her: she wants to bring about change here, too.’
Rafael Nadal, 34, and Ashleigh Barty, 25, both said that they have no issue speaking with the media, and they acknowledged that without the media their careers would not look the same
Osaka’s sponsors, including Nike and Mastercard, have backed her decision.
Such deals have helped make Osaka one of sport’s highest earners.
Her multiple sponsors have helping her to rake in $55.2 million in the past 12 months.
Only $5.2 million came from tennis winnings, while the rest came from endorsement deals with the likes of Nike, Beats by Dre, Mastercard and Nissin.
Other stars have also made a point of speaking out about the controversy.
Serena Williams, Osaka’s hero, said she wished she could ‘give her a hug’.
Osaka has said her depression began after her 2018 victory over her childhood hero Williams at the United States Open, in front of a crowd that strongly supported her opponent.
‘The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi,’ Williams said, after her first-round win over Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu.
‘I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like.
Like I said, I’ve been in those positions,’
‘Not everyone is the same. We have different personalities. I’m thick. Other people are thin. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently.
‘You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to and the best way she thinks she can.
‘That’s the only thing I can say: I think she is doing the best she can.’
Some of Osaka’s critics by Tuesday had changed their mind.
Billie Jean King tweeted on Monday afternoon that Osaka should be given space and that it was incredibly brave of her to speak about her depression
Earlier: King’s statement on Monday night was of a very different tone to the one she offered over the weekend that highlighted the media’s role in the game
Greats like Billie Jean King – who earlier disagreed with Osaka’s decision – changed their tune to offer her sympathy.
Chris Evert suggested changes to the media to protect young stars who can’t seem to handle tough questions.
Others like 18-time Grand-Slam winner Martina Navratilova – who told Osaka to ‘woman up’ last week – deleted tweets and replaced them with more sympathetic words.
King, 77, tweeted: ‘It’s incredibly brave that Naomi Osaka has revealed her truth about her struggle with depression. Right now, the important thing is that we give her the space and time she needs.
We wish her well.’
Hours earlier, she’d posted a different statement that said in part: ‘I have always believed that as professional athletes we have a responsibility to make ourselves available to the media… the media still play an important role in telling our story.’
Chris Evert – who won her first French Open at age 20, three years younger than Osaka is now – said that while the press is ‘crucial’ to the game, press conferences need to change to become ‘more comfortable for the players’
Evert won her first French Open in 1974 when she was 20 (shown) – three years younger than Osaka is now.
She said on Tuesday that she didn’t mind taking questions about her performance, but didn’t like ever being asked about her personal life. Osaka said she didn’t want to face journalists because she thinks they ‘doubt’ her
She said the press is ‘crucial’ to the sport and has helped Osaka’s brand but that press conferences need to be updated to make it more comfortable for the stars.
She suggested putting checks on the media by restricting press conferences to 15 minutes, banning ‘tabloid’ press and bloggers whose questions aren’t to athletes’ liking and even adding a ‘moderator’ to ‘field questions.’
They cant cope with what a 45 year old golfer can. The press needs to have compassion with what they ask
‘There are so many layers to this issue that it would take an hour to talk about.
‘Most importantly, I hope that Naomi is OK.
It’s interesting because I really respect Naomi for being a spokesperson and she has been the darling of the media, that’s what makes this interesting.
‘The media have really helped her brand.
‘On the one side, I have so much sympathy for her but on the other side of the coin is that the press are very instrumental in the growth of the game It’s crucial to tennis, it brings stories to the fans, dissects matches.
‘These press conferences are a responsibility.
‘But at the same time, it’s time to take a look at the structure of these press conferences to make them more comfortable and healthier for the players, maybe limit them to 15 or20 minutes, maybe check the credentials of the press a little better, maybe monitor or a moderator in there to field the questions.
‘This is an individual sport, it can be brutal at times…these athletes are teenagers and in their early 20s.
They cant cope with what a 45-year-old golfer can.
‘The press needs to have compassion with what they ask – it’s putting a lot of players off,’ she said.
Asked how she managed it when she was a teen star, she replied: ‘I was fine with talking about my losses, I felt like it went along with the territory.
I would just answer the question – but when they ask about your personal life…some of them are tabloid, blogs.
‘Maybe they should check the credentials more,’ she said.
Navratilova, an 18-time Grand Slam winner, deleted a tweet Monday that said: ‘Kudos to Naomi Osaka for caring so much about the other players.
‘While she tried to make a situation better for herself and others, she inadvertently made it worse. Hope this solution, pulling out, as brutal as it is, will allow her to start healing and take care of her SELF.’
She then tweeted: ‘I am so sad about Naomi Osaka.
I truly hope she will be okay. As athletes we are taught to take care of our body, and perhaps the mental and emotional aspect gets short shrift.’
‘This is about more than doing or not doing a press conference. Good luck Naomi – we are all pulling for you.’
The tone was significantly different to commentary aired on the Tennis Channel on Sunday when, instead of publicly supporting Osaka, she said the player’s issue ‘is not a mental health issue and is a mental issue’ before telling her to ‘woman up’.
Martina Navratilova first tweeted this on Monday, saying Osaka made things ‘worse’ for herself.
Earlier, she’d said she needs to ‘woman up’ during an appearance on TV
Three hours later, Martina deleted her earlier tweet and replaced it with this more sympathetic one
The tournament’s organizers released a statement after Osaka withdrew, saying: ‘First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka.
‘The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland-Garros is unfortunate.
We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery, and we look forward to having Naomi at our Tournament next year.
‘As all the Grand 언브로큰 Slams, the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, we remain very committed to all athletes’ well-being and to continually improving every aspect of players’ experience in our Tournament, including with the Media, like we have always strived to do.’
The Women’s Tennis Association said that while it welcomed a dialogue with Osaka and other players, ‘professional athletes have a responsibility to their sport and their fans to speak to the media surrounding their competition, allowing them the opportunity to share their perspective and tell their story.’
<div class="art-ins mol-factbox news" data-version="2" id="mol-adfdad30-c352-11eb-887a-3dedf7674f54" website Osaka arrives home in LA after dropping out of the French Open