After collecting a win in the French Open’s first round, Naomi skipped the post-game press conference. She was quickly fined $15,000 and warned about the long-term consequences of breaking the rules. Then, in a move to prioritize her mental health, the athlete opted out of the French open altogether. She followed up that decision by also opting out of the upcoming tournament in Berlin.
This news comes from a statement released on Monday by the Berlin event organizers. They received “notification” that Naomi “cannot start in Berlin.” Moreover, they revealed that the talented player will be taking “a break.” Naomi began prioritizing her mental health prior to the start of the French Open. She shared on social media her experiences with “huge waves of anxiety” at press conferences. Even after withdrawing from the tournament, Naomi remained graceful and apologetic about her decision.
“I never wanted to be a distraction, and I accept that my timing was not ideal and the message could have been clearer,” she said in a statement.
As of now, there’s no news on how Naomi’s break will affect her participation in tournaments beyond Berlin. Wimbledon will be commencing at the end of June. According to Forbes, the four-time Grand Slam Champion is also booked to compete in the Tokyo Summer Games. Those games are set to begin in July.
After her initial withdrawal, Naomi received heartwarming support from celebrities and athletes alike, including thee champ of tennis champs Serena Williams.
“I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like, like I said I’ve been in those positions,” Serena said during a press conference. “Not everyone is the same. We have different personalities. I’m thick. Other people are thin. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently. You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to and the best way she thinks she can. That’s the only thing I can say: I think she is doing the best she can.”
Will Smith posted a handwritten note to Instagram reassuring Naomi and saying he’s “with her.” NBA superstar Stephen Curry also tweeted about having “major respect” for Naomi’s choice to take “the high road when the powers that be don’t protect their own.”
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