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Naomi Osaka: The Grand Slams pledge to offer Japanese star help as she takes time away from the court

The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open have pledged to offer Naomi Osaka their "support and assistance" after the world No 2 announced her withdrawal from the French Open on Monday evening due to mental health struggles

Naomi Osaka quits French Open after news conference dispute. STAR MAX File Photo: 8/20/19 Naomi Osaka at the "Queens Of Tennis" Experience in New York City.
Image: The Grand Slams have offered Naomi Osaka their 'support and assistance' as well as creating 'meaningful improvements' (Photo by: John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx)

The Grand Slams have pledged to work to improve the player experience at major tournaments following Naomi Osaka's withdrawal from the French Open.

A strong joint statement from the majors on Sunday threatening Osaka with disqualification and a ban from future tournaments if she did not reverse her decision not to fulfil her media commitments fanned the flames of what had already become a major talking point.

Osaka opened up on the long bouts of depression she has suffered since being thrust into the global spotlight by winning her first major title at the US Open in 2018 and the anxieties she experiences around talking to the media.

Another statement on Tuesday took a very different tone, with the majors offering the world No 2 their help.

It read: "On behalf of the Grand Slams, we wish to offer Naomi Osaka our support and assistance in any way possible as she takes time away from the court.

"She is an exceptional athlete and we look forward to her return as soon as she deems appropriate."

The statement continued: "Mental health is a very challenging issue, which deserves our utmost attention. It is both complex and personal, as what affects one individual does not necessarily affect another.

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"We commend Naomi for sharing in her own words the pressures and anxieties she is feeling and we empathise with the unique pressures tennis players may face.

"While players' wellbeing has always been a priority to the Grand Slams, our intention, together with the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, is to advance mental health and wellbeing through further actions."

Naomi Osaka celebrates after defeating Romania's Patricia Maria Tig during their first round match of the French open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Sunday, May 30, 2021 in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Image: Osaka stunned the tennis world when she pulled out of the French Open after being fined and threatened with expulsion for declining to face the media after her first-round match

The Slams did, though, again stress the need for fairness to be maintained through regulations.

"Together, as a community, we will continue to improve the player experience at our tournaments, including as it relates to media," the statement read.

"Change should come through the lens of maintaining a fair playing field, regardless of ranking or status. Sport requires rules and regulations to ensure that no player has an unfair advantage over another.

"We intend to work alongside the players, the tours, the media and the broader tennis community to create meaningful improvements. As Grand Slams, we aim to create the stage for the players to achieve the highest accolades in our sport."

Tennis needs Osaka back on court

France's Gael Monfils celebrates after winning against Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas during their men's singles first round tennis match on Day 3 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 1, 2021. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP) (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: Gael Monfils said tennis needed Osaka back on court

Frenchman Gael Monfils said tennis needed Osaka back on court revealing all players were not similarly equipped to deal with the pressure of being a top athlete.

"We need Naomi. We need her definitely to be 100 per cent. We need her back on the court, back on the press conference, and back happy. You know, that's what we need," world No 15 Monfils said.

"What she's dealing with is tough for me to even judge, because I think she has massive pressure from many things," he continued.

"I think she's quite young. She's handling it quite well. Sometimes we want maybe too much from her, and then how she says maybe she can't manage it that well, so sometimes for sure she's going to make some mistakes.

"But I give her always the chance because she's a champion, she's quite young, she has a huge influence. So I think she needs to take some time for herself to work on herself, feel better."

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