In a decision that will no doubt disappoint organisers and fans, Naomi Osaka has confirmed her withdrawal from The Championships at Wimbledon, but is preparing to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.
Naomi Osaka will be greatly missed by all of us at Wimbledon this year, but we completely understand her decision. We wish her a happy time with her friends and family and look forward to welcoming her back to Wimbledon next year. AELTC Statement
The news was confirmed by several official sources, including the WTA and her agent, Stuart Duguid, who issued a statement: “Naomi won’t be playing Wimbledon this year. She is taking some personal time with friends and family. She will be ready for the Olympics and is excited to play in front of her home fans.”
The World No 2 clearly has her eyes set on the Tokyo Olympics at the end of July after withdrawing from the full grass court season.
The All England Club responded with its own statement: “Naomi Osaka will be greatly missed by all of us at Wimbledon this year, but we completely understand her decision.
“We wish her a happy time with her friends and family and look forward to welcoming her back to Wimbledon next year.”
The Championships returns after a two-year hiatus on Monday 28 June
Osaka’s absence from Wimbledon comes two weeks after her withdrawal from the French Open citing mental health concerns in a move caused by the furore around her refusal to fulfil media duties.
Wimbledon is set to begin on 28 June and organisers had been hopeful the Japanese player would take her place in the women’s singles draw.
On Wednesday, Wimbledon Chief Executive Sally Bolton had revealed that the AELTC was hoping Osaka would compete.
“We’ve reached out to her team, we haven’t spoken to Naomi herself,” Bolton said. “At this point in time she’s entered into the Championships and we haven’t received confirmation that she won’t compete.”
Tournament Director Jamie Baker added: “I had the conversation with her team. It’s absolutely clear that we’re here, we’re completely open for any discussions when they want to have that.
“Hopefully it goes without saying that we want the best players competing here no matter what.
“We treat every single player with a tremendous amount of care.”
Osaka had sighted mental health issues and concerns for reaching her decision in Paris, saying she has suffered ‘long bouts of depression’ since winning the US Open in 2018 when the crowd booed her win over Serena Williams.
In a statement she had said: “Hey everyone, this isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. 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 is a 23-year-old who was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father. The family moved to the United States when she was 3 and she is still based there.
A former World No 1, Osaka is currently ranked No 2 and is the highest-earning female athlete with a 14-3 match win record this season, including the title at the Australian Open in February.
She has played at Wimbledon three times, twice exiting in the third round and losing in the first round in 2019.
Osaka is the second marquee name to withdraw from this years’ Wimbledon, after Rafael Nadal opted out of both The Championships and the Tokyo Olympics.
“The goal is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy, that is to compete at the highest level and keep fighting for those professional and personal goals at the maximum level of competition,” Nadal said.
The Tokyo Olympics begins on 23 July, with the tennis event running from Saturday, 24 July and ending on Sunday, 1 August.