Naomi Osaka has become the latest high-profile star to pull out of Wimbledon, in a decision that has left tennis fans sad but perhaps not surprised.
Fresh from the news men’s superstar Rafael Nadal was also withdrawing from Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympic Games, Osaka’s team confirmed she wouldn’t be taking part in the grass-court grand slam at the All England Club.
Osaka has withdrawn from the year’s third major because of personal reasons, but she will be targeting the Tokyo Olympic Games in her homeland, beginning in July.
The Japanese player has been on a break from tennis to deal with her mental health concerns after sensationally quitting the French Open at the end of last month.
The 23-year-old withdrew from the tournament before her second round match after organisers fined her when she refused to attend mandatory post-match press conferences.
The Australian Open champion said unsympathetic questioning after games had impacted on her mental well-being.
Wimbledon chiefs only yesterday offered a positive outlook on Osaka’s chances of playing in the grass-court major, with Wimbledon CEO Sally Bolton revealing that they’d reached out to her team.
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. That’s one of the main reasons for me and my role. We’ve been building those relationships so there’s a constant, ongoing dialogue and we will just continue to behave in this way.”
However, Osaka’s team have now revealed that the 23-year-old will use the Wimbledon period to be with loved ones, before she gets “ready for the Olympics”.
“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,” Osaka’s agent reported on Thursday.
The four-time grand slam winner had announced in the build-up to the French Open that she would not face the media and stuck to her stance, which led to a $US15,000 ($A19,800) fine.
Pictured here, Naomi Osaka at Wimbledon in 2019.
Wimbledon chiefs had hoped Naomi Osaka would compete at the All England Club in 2021. Pic: Getty
A strongly-worded letter from the board of the four grand slam tournaments followed, warning her of possible expulsion from Roland Garros and future majors – after which she announced her withdrawal on social media.
French Open organisers defended their handling of the situation but accepted that the governing bodies need to do better on mental health issues.
Osaka’s withdrawal is a second blow to Wimbledon after 20-times Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal also announced on Thursday that he was skipping the tournament following a gruelling clay-court season.
Shattered tennis fans have flooding social media to share their disappointment at the news.
Naomi Osaka withdraws from Wimbledon, not a surprise being only a few weeks after the French Open. Needs a longer break from tennis.
Rafa Nadal also withdraws today
Sad for tennis but the sport is bigger than individual names and we will still enjoy Wimbledon just as much.
— The Tennis Talker (@TheTennisTalker) June 17, 2021
Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from Wimbledon. I am sending my best wishes to her! At the end of the day, she needs to do what’s best for her!
— 𝐵𝑒𝒸𝒸𝒶 (@MJFINESSELOVER) June 17, 2021
Sad to see Naomi Osaka withdrawing from Wimbledon but again not surprised , the tournament this year will be bit worse for not having her and Nadal in it #Wimbledon2021
— Martyn Waller (@Martynw34) June 17, 2021
😫😫😫😫 First Rafa withdraw from Wimbledon now Naomi Osaka gathering a pray circle for my other favourite players 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/ODqJ1F4ZxN
— Sophia reid (@sophiareid69) June 17, 2021
Gutted really wanted to see what Naomi Osaka could do at Wimbledon this year 😞 but her health must come first
— JonYouens (@socialmediajon1) June 17, 2021
Rafa out and now Osaka… sad for this year’s Wimbledon but I’m glad both are prioritizing their health — physically and mentally #Wimbledon
— Ashley Ahn (@ashleyahn88) June 17, 2021
Osaka out of Wimbledon. I’m as shocked as I am by Rafa’s withdrawal. Maybe the pandemic has everyone feeling like an exposed nerve — things are hitting everyone harder, inc. elite athletes.
Question looms over Vanessa Bryant lawsuit against Los Angeles County: What does she want?
The widow of Kobe Bryant wants retribution for what happened last year after her husband and daughter died in a helicopter crash.
But what kind of retribution? And how much?
Vanessa Bryant is suing Los Angeles County, accusing county sheriff’s and fire department employees of improperly sharing photos of dead bodies from the site of the crash that killed nine, including the NBA legend.
As the case heads to trial in February, perhaps the biggest question hovering above it is what her goal is for it.
Andy Murray’s wedding ring and shoes returned following Indian Wells disappearance
Andy Murray’s wedding ring and tennis shoes have been recovered after they seemingly disappeared in the California desert.
The three-time major winner is preparing for action at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and left his tennis shoes outside underneath his car to dry out overnight – but they were nowhere to be seen when he returned in the morning.
And it was only when his physio asked about his wedding band that he realised he had left the ring tied to his shoes.
In an Instagram video posted late on Thursday, which was shared on Twitter by the ATP Tour Murray said: “I just want to send a quick message to say a huge thanks for all the messages and also to everyone for sharing the story about the shoes and the wedding ring.
“(I) had to make a few calls today and chat to the security at the hotel and everything.
“Little update for everyone,” he said as he raised the shoes into view.
“Would you believe it, they still absolutely stink but the shoes are back, the wedding ring is back and I’m back in the good books. Let’s go.”
The shoes are back. 👟
The ring is back. 💍
Let’s go, @andy_murray!!! 💪#BNPPO21 pic.twitter.com/hA5VKX98mm
— ATP Tour (@atptour) October 7, 2021
In an earlier post, Murray light-heartedly appealed for the return of the ring – to help him smooth things over with his frustrated wife.
He explained leaving his shoes to dry out under his car as “I have no balcony in my room and I didn’t want to leave them in my room as it would stink the room out”.
Murray married his long-term girlfriend Kim Sears in 2015 at Dunblane Cathedral. The couple now have four children.
The Scot is due to play France’s Adrian Mannarino in the first round at Indian Wells on Friday.
NASCAR Star Has Brutally Honest Admission On Michael Jordan
Legendary Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan has a very commanding presence, both on and off the basketball court.
In recent years, Jordan has gotten involved in other sports, namely NASCAR. The NBA Hall of Famer is part owner of 23XI Racing, which is co-owned by Denny Hamlin.
The NASCAR team features Bubba Wallace and is adding Kurt Busch for the 2022 season.
Busch, a veteran NASCAR driver, had a brutally honest admission on his meeting with Jordan.
“I mean he is the GOAT. The situation, the way it all came together, it was this impressive meeting out in Sonoma earlier this summer. Right away, I got along with him. Just with the way he was chill but also presented this aura about him. ‘We will win. We are here to win. This is what this is about,’” Busch remembered in an interview with SiriusXM. “And it was like, ‘Yes sir.’ He’s like, ‘Don’t call me sir.’ I said, ‘Alright, let’s win.’”
Busch is excited to get going for 23XI Racing.
“It was just easy right away to piece together what the contract is,” he recalled. “Monster Energy was incredibly excited about it. Toyota, they were the ones behind the scenes, kind of pushing for a veteran to jump in the program and move the needle with 23XI. I’ve raced a long time for a lot of different legendary owners and Hall of Famers in NASCAR. MJ definitely has a different presence about him.”
The 2022 season should be a fun one.