Naomi Osaka is stepping away from tennis for the time being.
She announced her decision after an upset loss to Canada’s Leylah Annie Fernandez in the third round of the U.S. Open on Friday. Osaka — the 2020 U.S. Open women’s singles champion — said that she hasn’t felt happy recently when she wins and that it feels “more like a relief,” while after losing, “I feel very sad.” She added that she doesn’t “think that’s normal.”
“I guess we’re all dealing with some stuff, but I know that I’m dealing with some stuff,” Osaka said. “I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match.
“I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.”
Osaka threw her racket in frustration several times during the match and was issued a code violation in the third set when she hit a ball into the stands.
She apologized in the press conference for the incidents. She said she had been telling herself to stay calm during the match but felt “maybe there was a boiling point.”
“Normally, I feel like I like challenges,” Osaka said. “But recently I feel very anxious when things don’t go my way, and I feel like you can feel that. I’m not really sure why it happens the way it happens now.”
Osaka, the world’s No. 3-ranked player, came into the match having had three days off because her second-round opponent, Olga Danilovic, withdrew due to illness. She also hadn’t played much in the last few months. She competed in two matches in August in Cincinnati, in three at the Tokyo Olympics in July and in one at the French Open in May.
Osaka withdrew from the French Open, saying she had “suffered long bouts of depression” and was stepping away to focus on her mental health. She also withdrew from Wimbledon and did not play again until the Olympics, where she lit the cauldron to begin the games in Tokyo.