French Open: Stars voice support for Osaka after Roland Garros withdrawal

By Sports Desk May 31, 2021

Naomi Osaka's shock withdrawal from the French Open generated an outpouring of support across the tennis world and beyond. 

The four-time grand slam winner pulled out of Roland Garros on Monday, a day after tournament organisers said her continued refusal to attend mandatory press conferences could result in her being thrown out of the event.

Osaka said in a statement posted to social media that she has had bouts of depression since winning the US Open in 2018 and never intended for her stance to become a distraction. 

Monday's action in Paris had mostly been completed when the news broke, but Serena Williams shared her thoughts following an evening match. 

Williams acknowledged feeling anxious dealing with the press at times early in her career, but said she believed the experience made her stronger. 

Top of mind, however, was concern for Osaka. 

"The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi. I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it's like," Williams said.

"We have different personalities, and people are different. Not everyone is the same. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently.

"You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to, in the best way she thinks she can, and that's the only thing I can say. I think she's doing the best that she can."

Osaka's fellow players and others took to social media with encouraging messages for the 23-year-old. 

Venus Williams wrote on Instagram: "So proud of you. Take care of yourself and see you back winning soon!"

Young American star Coco Gauff responded to Osaka's tweet by writing "stay strong ... I admire your vulnerability." 

A pair of tennis legends also weighed in on Twitter. 

"I am so sad about Naomi Osaka. I truly hope she will be ok," Martina Navratilova wrote.

"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!"

Billie Jean King added: "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."

Mardy Fish, the former ATP player who reached number seven in the world, wrote to Osaka: "Mental health is nothing to criticise. Nothing to joke about. Pls [sic] take your mental health seriously. Without my support system, I truly believe I would not be here today. Here for you."

That public show of support extended beyond tennis, as prominent NFL and NBA players praised Osaka for her courage. 

"We are with you," said Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

NBA star Stephen Curry wrote: "You shouldn't ever have to make a decison like this - but so damn impressive taking the high road when the powers that be don't protect their own. Major respect."

Related items

  • Curry pays tribute to Klay Thompson after latest spectacular Warriors display Curry pays tribute to Klay Thompson after latest spectacular Warriors display

    Stephen Curry reserved special praise for Klay Thompson despite his own latest spectacular performance for the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

    The Warriors extended their winning streak to six games as they beat the Portland Trail Blazers 118-103 to move to 17-2 for the season.

    Curry led the way with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, surpassing Scottie Pippen for 62nd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

    The Warriors' impressive form has come despite the continued wait for the return of star shooter Thompson, who this week returned to full-team practice for the first time in more than two years.

    Thompson, a key part of the championship-winning sides in 2015, 2017 and 2018, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear during the Warriors' failed 'three-peat' attempt in 2019 and then injured his Achilles tendon during recovery.

    Thompson, who was serenaded by the crowd at Chase Center where he stayed on the bench for more than 20 minutes, is now going through perhaps the most difficult part of his journey back to the court, according to Curry.

    "I kind of predicted this would be the hardest part of his journey because he's got the basketball back in his hands every day, he's feeling like himself, he's playing pickup and he's around our practices and back with us in those type of situations, but he's still not on the court," Curry said.

    "The good thing is we're talking weeks instead of months now. I'm super proud of just the way he's approached this two-year window because unless he wants to write a book and [explain] every step, nobody will understand what he's been through away from the game so long. And it shows how much this game matters to him."

    Portland threatened a late comeback when they moved to within eight points in the final six minutes, but the Warriors are nothing if not resolute, two Curry three-pointers helping to safeguard their lead.

    "We know these type of nights where we play at home, do the defence, get the crowd into it. It's all about just trying to create an identity here. We've got to do our part throughout the season to win games," he said.

    "The defence is huge. We always pride ourselves on being a top-five defensive and we got to that level quickly. We've got to sustain it, obviously.

    "Integrating our new guys, the shooting we have, ball movement, there was no guarantee that was going to be a smooth process. I'm proud of everybody stepping up, understanding how we play and everybody enjoying themselves."

  • Suns sizzle with 15th straight win and Curry's Warriors roll on as LeBron's Lakers fall in triple OT Suns sizzle with 15th straight win and Curry's Warriors roll on as LeBron's Lakers fall in triple OT

    The Phoenix Suns are closing in on a franchise record after celebrating a 15th successive win with a 118-97 victory against the New York Knicks in the NBA.

    Last season's Finals runners-up, the Suns are two victories away from equalling their all-time consecutive win streak of 17 games thanks to Friday's triumph – Phoenix won 17 straight games in 2006-07.

    Devin Booker fuelled the red-hot Suns with 32 points at Madison Square Garden, Chris Paul (14 points and 10 assists) and Deandre Ayton (14 points and 13 rebounds) contributed double-doubles on the road.

    Reigning Western Conference champions the Suns boast a 16-3 record this season, a mark only bettered by rivals the Golden State Warriors (17-2).

     

     

    Warriors win again

    The Warriors extended their winning streak to six games by topping the Portland Trail Blazers 118-103. Stephen Curry led Golden State with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, while the two-time MVP surpassed Scottie Pippen for 62nd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Draymond Green put up 12 points and 12 assists.

    The Los Angeles Lakers lost a wild game against the Sacramento Kings, outlasted 141-137 following triple overtime. Not even Russell Westbrook's triple-double (29 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds) or LeBron James' 30 points and 11 assists could lift the Lakers in LA.

    Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Nikola Jokic-less Denver Nuggets 120-109 behind Giannis Antetokounmpo's 24 points and 13 rebounds. By topping the depleted Nuggets, the Bucks made it six straight victories.

     

    Jazz stunned in Salt Lake City

    The lowly New Orleans Pelicans shocked the Utah Jazz 98-97 courtesy of Devonte' Graham's go-ahead three-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining on the road.

    The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the struggling Detroit Pistons 107-96, but it was a rough outing for star Paul George, who was just five-for-19 shooting in a 12-point display. Number one draft pick Cade Cunningham, meanwhile, finished with 10 points having made only three of his 13 shots from the field.

  • 'I'm a proud, proud brother' - Stephen beats Seth but Curry clan stick together at Thanksgiving 'I'm a proud, proud brother' - Stephen beats Seth but Curry clan stick together at Thanksgiving

    Stephen Curry hailed his "unbelievable" younger brother Seth as the sibling rivalry became a thrilling sideshow in the Golden State Warriors' win over the 76ers.

    It appeared Seth was going to win the battle but lose the war when he led Stephen in scoring while Philadelphia trailed in the game, going into the closing minutes.

    Yet a three-pointer with 1:27 to play from Stephen meant he reached 25 points as well as finishing on the winning team, while Seth ended the game on 24 points and on the beaten side.

    On Thursday, both NBA stars were set to get together with their family for Thanksgiving, along with Golden State's Damion Lee, who is brother-in-law to the pair after marrying their sister, Sydel.

    Philadelphia swept to a 34-23 lead after the first quarter as Seth Curry made a blazing start to Wednesday's game, but a dazzling second half from Stephen and the Warriors saw them dominate 64-35 to snatch a 116-96 win.

    Seth missed all five of his three-point attempts, to put another downer on his night.

    He said of facing Stephen: "It's not always fun to play against him. For 80 nights out of the year, I want him to have a good game and them to win, but tonight the switch is flipped and I gotta compete against him and try to stop him.

    "It's good for our families to watch. I was a little upset in the end of the fourth: it was the first chance I had to outscore him and he gets a wide open three at the end of the game when it's said and done to eclipse me by one point, so I wasn't happy about that."

    All the same, Seth was smiling about it all, so a family get-together looked sure to be an enjoyable affair.

    He added: "Especially around the holidays it's good for everybody to see each other, and you don't take it for granted, me, Stephen and Damion playing against each other."

     

    This was the second time this season the Warriors won a game by at least 20 points after trailing by at least 10. The rest of the NBA's teams only have three such games.

    Stephen Curry made just one free throw (Seth was eight-from-eight from the line) but connected on six of 11 three-point attempts.

    After the game, Stephen insisted he had been unaware Seth was close to pipping him for points until that late three-pointed.

    "He reminded me right after the game. I didn't know the stakes were so high on that shot," Stephen said.

    "That dude's playing unbelievable basketball. It's fun to watch and he continues to get better. It's impressive the way he's playing and the way he's stepped into his identity in this league. I'm a proud, proud brother."

    Golden State have won nine straight home games, all by at least 13 points.

    Stephen Curry felt the second-half contribution of Juan Toscano-Anderson was key to the comeback, with abundant energy complementing his 13 points, six rebounds and six assists.

    "For sure. That is contagious. You feel a different spirit because of how much it means to him and how he knows he can influence and impact games," said Warriors star Curry.

    "Anybody can skill their way into it and have that flashiness. He has that dog in him that comes out and it's contagious for sure and we feed off that."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.