Naomi Osaka has thanked fans for ‘all the love’ and support she has received since pulling out of the French Open.
The Japanese world No. 2 had announced she would not be addressing the media in order to protect her mental health during the tournament and was subsequently slapped with a $15,000 fine, while also being threatened with expulsion and future suspension from the event.
But Osaka walked before Roland Garros had the chance to remove her and the 23-year-old has received widespread support from the tennis world and beyond in the days that have passed.
The reigning Australian Open and US Open champion had remained silent in public until Saturday when she took to Instagram to show her appreciation for the many kind messages that have come her way.
‘Just want to say thank you for all the love,’ Okaka told her 2.4 million followers.
‘Haven’t been on the phone much but I wanted to hop on here and tell you all that I really appreciate it [love heart emoji].’
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, pop star Pink and Hollywood actor Will Smith are just some of the high-profile names outside of tennis to throw their support behind Osaka and Novak Djokovic backed the four-time Grand Slam winner to ‘come back stronger’.
‘I support her. I think she was very brave to do that,’ the Serbian world No. 1 said following his recent victory over Tennys Sandgren.
‘I’m really sorry that she is going through painful times and suffering mentally, is what I have heard.
‘I haven’t spoken to her but it seems like she has been struggling. I wish her all the best. I hope she recovers. She’s a very important player and brand for and person for our sport.
‘So we need to have her back. This was, I must say, very bold decision from her side. But she knows how she feels best. If she needs to take time and reflect and just recharge, you know, that’s what she needed to do, and I respect it fully.
‘I hope that she’ll come back stronger.’
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Author: Tom Olver