World tennis number two Naomi Osaka has quit the French Open after refusing to talk to the press.
Ms Osaka has been embroiled in a battle with tennis authorities for her not to give interviews at post-match conferences.
Ms Osaka, 23, from Japan, tweeted that she had “suffered long bouts of depression” since winning her first Grand Slam title in 2018.
She added: “I never wanted to be a distraction.”
Ms Osaka won her opening match in the French Open in straight sets.
She was promptly fined £10,570 for not giving an interview.
Later the Grand Slam organisers warned the player could be banned from the tournament.
Indeed, she could be excluded from all the Grand Slam titles – the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.
The threat led to her decision to withdraw from the French Open.
In a lengthy statement Ms Osaka said:
“This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago.
“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my wellbeing is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.
“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.
“More importantly, I would never trivialise mental health or use the term lightly.
“The truth is I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.
“Anyone that knows me knows I am introverted and anyone that has seen me at tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety.
“Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I want to apologise to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt), I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media.
“I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can.
“So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious, so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences.
“I announced it pre-emptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.
“I wrote privately to the tournament apologising and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the Slams are intense.
“I’m going to take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right, I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans.”
Gilles Moretton, President of the French Tennis Federation
“We are sorry and sad for Naomi.
“We wish her the best and quickest possible recovery, and we look forward to having Naomi at our tournament next year.
“As all the Grand Slams, the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, we remain very committed to all athletes’ wellbeing and to continually improving every aspect of players’ experience in our tournament, including with the media, like we have always strived to do.”
Martina Navratilova, 18-time Grand Slam singles champion:
“I am so sad about Naomi Osaka. I truly hope she will be ok.
“As athletes we are taught to take care of our body, and perhaps the mental and emotional aspect gets short shrift.
“This is about more than doing or not doing a press conference.
“Good luck Naomi – we are all pulling for you!”