Naomi Osaka came out in the first round of the French Open

Objectively speaking, Osaka’s loss to Anisimova was not offensive. Osaka, the former No. 1 from Japan, is one of the biggest sports stars and the highest paid female athlete in the world, by a wide margin. But he has not been the dominant force on tour for more than a year and has never been the dominant force on the clay pitch of the French Open.

For the time being it remains one of the wonders of the surface. Osaka won all four Grand Slam titles in singles on the hard courts: two at the Australian Open and two at the United States Open. He never reached the finals on clay pitch tours and never made it to the third round of the French Open. His career record on singles on hard courts is 133-56, but on clay it is 21-17 and on grass only 11-9. He later said he was not going to play next month at Wimbledon, which he played on the grass field, now that the WTA Tour has stripped the event of rating points in response to a ban on Russian and Belarusian players by Wimbledon.

“I feel that if I play Wimbledon without points, it looks more like an exhibition,” Osaka said. “I know this is not true, is it?” But that’s exactly how my brain feels. “When I think of something like an exhibition, I can not go for it 100 percent.”

Last year, on and off the court, he left ahead of the second round of the French Open due to a refusal to hold post-match press conferences due to a confrontation with tournament officials. He cited his mental health as the reason for their omission while he was at the tournament, but did not contact tournament officials directly before or after the announcement of the decision when they sought further explanation. For lack of background, they were fined $ 15,000 for missing the first round of press conferences and it was revealed that he would risk the tournament and the upcoming Grand Slam if he continued to refuse to comply with media demands.

It was a surprisingly tough line, and Osaka chose to retreat instead of aggravating the situation, revealing in a social media post that it had suffered a long period of depression since winning its first major title at the 2018 U.S. Open.

L’Affaire Osaka sparked a wide-ranging debate over Roland Garros on mental health issues in sport and sparked a women’s tour that provides even more mental health resources for its players on and off the field. Osaka said he wanted to treat the situation differently. The French Open has changed its leaders. The tournament’s longtime director, Guy Forge, was replaced this year by Amelie Mauressi, the former number one player on the women’s tour, who made the players’ mental health a priority. Under his leadership, the French Open has reduced access to player zones for journalists this year. The tournament also provides mental health experts on the ground to assist players.

Maresmo was trying to greet Osaka on the court and beyond when he returned to Roland Garros this year. Osaka arrived homeless and played just two games on clay throughout the year after coming out of the Italian Open earlier this month with a left Achilles tendon injury.

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