Naomi Osaka wins ESPY award in first public appearance since Roland-Garros withdrawal

The four-time Grand Slam winner is scheduled to return to tennis at the Tokyo Games later this month

Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka made her first public appearance since her shocking withdrawal from the French Open in the end of May at the ESPY Awards ceremony in New York City, where she won the award for Best Female Athlete.

Osaka stirred a hornet’s nest when she announced just a few days before the French Open that she would not take part in the mandatory press conference as she wanted to preserve her mental health. After being fined $15,000 for skipping the press conference following her first-round win in Paris, Osaka withdrew from the tournament and then released another statement, in which she spoke about suffering from anxiety and long bouts of depression since her breakthrough US Open win in 2018.

Osaka also pulled out of Wimbledon and her appearance at the ESPYs was her first public appearance since then.

Osaka’s first words were last Friday

In an essay that she wrote in Time magazine a few days ago, Osaka said she was excited to return to tennis and compete at the Tokyo Game, which kick off later this month, where she will represent Japan.

“I just really want to not say a long speech because I’m a bit nervous…” said Osaka. “I know this year has been really, it hasn’t even finished, but it’s been really tough for a lot of us. For me, I just want to say, I really love you guys and this is my first ESPYs so it’s really cool to be surrounded by all these incredible athletes. I think all of you guys are really cool and I watch some of you on TV so it’s really surreal to be here and yeah, thank you so much and I really appreciate it”.

Osaka also won the best athlete, women’s tennis award while men’s world No 1 Novak Djokovic won the best athlete, men’s tennis award. Osaka also has a Netflix documentary on her life, ‘Naomi Osaka’ which will premiere on the streaming platform on July 16.

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