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Naomi Osaka withdraws from Australian Open after series of health setbacks

Osaka, a former Australian Open winner, did not offer a statement about her withdrawal. She has had a number of injury-related issues.
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Naomi Osaka withdrew from the Australian Open on Saturday, just over a week before the tournament begins.

Osaka, 25, did not issue a statement saying why. She had a rash of withdrawals due to injury last year. She withdrew from Wimbledon in June because of an injury to her Achilles' heel and forfeited the Toray Pan Pacific Open in September, citing illness.

She had been set to play a second-round match against Beatriz Haddad Maia at the September tournament when she spoke about the news to reporters, 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."

Formerly ranked No. 1 by the WTA, Osaka won both the Australian and U.S. opens twice from 2018 to 2021. She made headlines in May 2021 when she announced she would not compete at the French Open, citing anxiety over post-match news 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.”

In an essay for Time magazine, Osaka said she has a good relationship with the media but finds the news conference format outdated.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.” (Roland Garros stadium is the site of the French Open.)

Osaka returned to the court later that summer 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.

Despite the tumultuous year, Osaka finished the 2021 season remaining ranked No. 12 in the world. But after an injury-ridden season, she fell to No. 42 in the WTA rankings last year.