With The Championships just 10 days away, Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from both Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, having decided to skip both events after ‘listening’ to his body, while Naomi Osaka’s participation at SW19 remains questionable.
Sport prevention of any kind of excess in my body is a very important factor at this stage of my career in order to try to keep fighting for the highest level of competition and titles. Rafael Nadal
Nadal, who reached the French Open semi-finals last week but lost to Novak Djokovic, has won the title at Wimbledon twice, in 2008 and 2010.
He also won the Olympic gold medal in singles at the 2008 Beijing Games and in doubles at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
“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 35-year-old Spaniard said the fact that there are only two weeks between Roland Garros and Wimbledon ‘didn’t make it easier’ on his body to recover from ‘the always demanding’ clay-court season.
“Sport prevention of any kind of excess in my body is a very important factor at this stage of my career in order to try to keep fighting for the highest level of competition and titles,” Nadal wrote on Twitter.
Nadal is a 20-time Grand Slam champion with a record 13 titles at the French Open.
His loss at Roland Garros last Friday was only his 3rd in 108 matches at a tournament he won each of the last 4 years, including by beating Djokovic in the 2020 final.
“The Olympic Games always meant a lot and they were always a priority as a Sports person, I found the spirit that every sports person in the world wants to live,” he wrote. “I personally had the chance to live 3 of them and had the honour to be the flag bearer for my country.”
Nadal had not played much amid the coronavirus pandemic and had a slow start to his season, winning just 2 titles, in Barcelona and in Rome, and with a 23-4 record in matches played so far this year.
Meanwhile, reports indicate that Wimbledon organisers have made contact with Naomi Osaka’s team after the media blackout row that unfolded at the French Open, insisting ‘the door is completely open’ as they hope to welcome the four-time Grand Slam champion back to SW19.
Osaka, the world No. 2 from Japan, sparked controversy when she announced she would not be completing her media duties prior to Roland Garros.
She was slapped with a fine of more than £10,000 and threatened with expulsion from the French Open and future Grand Slam events before taking the decision out of tournament organisers’ hands by withdrawing ahead of the second round, citing mental health struggles as the reason behind her withdrawal.
Osaka then pulled out of a Wimbledon warm-up event in Berlin and is still considered a major doubt for the grass-court Grand Slam after declaring she would be taking a break from the sport but she apparently is still on the player list for The Championships, which start on Monday 28 June.
“At this point in time she is entered into the Championships and we haven’t received confirmation that she won’t compete,” said Sally Bolton, AELTC Chief Executive. “We have [spoken to her]. Well, we have reached out to her team. We haven’t spoken to Naomi herself.”
Jamie Baker, Championships Director, added: “I had the conversation with her team. It is absolutely clear that we are here, we are completely open for any discussions when they want to have that.
“Look, it goes without saying that we want the best players to compete here no matter what.”
Asked if she would be fined again if she refused to fulfil media duties at the All England Club, Baker added: “It is really hard to predict what may or may not happen in the future. It is a hypothetical.
“What I have said, and I will repeat what I have said, we are completely open to a discussion. On this topic we know that this can be… people can still see this in a number of different ways and the opportunities that are there for players, both on and off the court at these big tournaments, are really, really great.
“I think that is really where we are now. The door is completely open. And we treat every single player really with a tremendous amount of care.
“That is one of the main reasons for me in my role as tournament director, we have been building those relationships really since I started in. There is a constant ongoing dialogue. We will just continue to behave in that way.”
The Grand Slams’ heavy-handed response to Osaka’s original statement has drawn criticism and Bolton admitted Wimbledon are reviewing the situation, targeting improvement in future.
“It is really important that every, and any player, knows that our door is open at any time, they can have a conversation with us about any issues and that door is always open,” added Bolton.