Naomi Osaka has become a trending topic for withdrawing from the Australian Open just a week before the tournament begins.
Osaka hasn’t made a statement on why she decided to withdraw but fans speculate it’s because of an injury that occurred last year.
Naomi suffered an Achilles injury that caused her to withdraw from Wimbledon in June and later caused her to forfeit from the Toray Pan Pacific Open in September citing illness.
At the time she had been set to play a second round match against Beatriz Haddad Maia at the September tournament when she spoke about the news in a press conference, according to the World Tennis Association.
“It’s an honor to be able to play at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in front of the amazing fans here in Japan,” Osaka said. “This has and always will be a special tournament for me and I wish I could have stepped on court today, but my body won’t let me. Thank you for all your support this week and I will see you next year.”
It’s no secret the amount of talent the TBD yr old posses. She was formerly ranked No.1 by the WTA, and has won both the Australian and U.S. opens twice between 2018 to 2021.
It’s also not secret that Osaka is a big advocate for mental health. So much that in May she announced she would not compete at the French Open, citing anxiety over post-match press conferences.
“I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly,” Osaka said at the time. “The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the U.S. Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.”
Unfortunately the media and high scrutiny from being in the press room also contributed to her decision. She stated that he has a good relationship with the media but finds the press conference format outdated. She said she prefers more “peer to peer” interactions with reporters.
“I communicated that I wanted to skip press conferences at Roland Garros to exercise self-care and preservation of my mental health,” she wrote. “I stand by that. Athletes are humans.”
Last time fans saw Osaka hit the court was summer 2021 for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics to play for Japan. She was knocked out in the third round by Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-4.
Luckilly, Osaka finished the 2021 season ranked No. 12 in the world despite all the setbacks. As far as the WTA rankings in 2022, Osaka fell down to No. 42.
The four-time Grand Slam champion, has since struggled to regain her form after injuries and time away from tennis but that hasn’t stopped her from getting to the bag.
Osaka remains one of the highest earning athletes in the world, with endorsement deals that have pushed her annual income to more than $50 million, according to Forbes.
Outside of the court, Osaka has a representation agency that she launched in May to take further control of her mounting business portfolio. Osaka and her longtime agent, Stuart Duguid, left IMG, the sports and entertainment conglomerate, to begin Evolve. Nick Kyrgios, an Australian tennis star, has since joined the agency as well, according to the New York Times.
Launching Evolve has allowed the superstar to engage her interests in culture and business.
“She’s not someone who likes to play video games and binge Netflix all day,” said Duguid, who has worked closely with Osaka since she was a teenager.
Duguid predicted that Osaka’s business portfolio could grow to $150 million annually in the coming years through investments and ventures such as Kinlò, a skin care products company focused on people with darker skin tones.
He hustle doesn’t stop there! In December Osaka released a children’s book, “The Way Champs Play.” She wrote that she hoped the book “inspires kids to chase their dreams and encourages them to believe they can do anything they put their minds to.”