Naomi Osaka - Lifestyle by Swish-b3fad0dd

French Open 2022: Naomi Osaka Ready For Roland Garros Return

Japan’s Naomi Osaka says her return to the French Open has been “positive for the most part” after initially worrying what the reaction would be to her pulling out of last year’s event.

The four-time Grand Slam champion, 24, withdrew 12 months ago and said she had been suffering from depression.

The former world number one took a break from tennis at the end of last year to protect her mental health.

“I’m not gonna lie. When I first came here I was very worried,” she said.

In the days leading up to last year’s French Open, Osaka announced she would not be taking part in the news conferences.

After her opening match she was fined $15,000 (£10,570) for not facing the media, with Grand Slam organisers saying Osaka could face expulsion from the tournament if she continued to avoid them.

That led to the player announcing her withdrawal the following day, saying she had suffered from “long bouts of depression”.

Later, at last year’s US Open, she said she would handle her decision not to speak to the media at Roland Garros differently if she had the chance now.

“Of course I also didn’t like how I handled the situation, but I was worried that there were people that I offended some way and I would just kind of bump into them,” said Osaka, who pulled out of the Italian Open this month with an ankle injury.

“But I think everyone has been really positive, for the most part. I’m not really so sure.”

Osaka, now ranked 38th in the world, has played five tournaments in 2022, including reaching the Miami Open final.

At Indian Wells she was brought to tears by a heckler who shouted “Naomi, you suck” during her 6-0 6-4 defeat by Veronika Kudermetova.

“I was also very worried about this press conference, because I knew I’d get a lot of questions about this,” she added when speaking in Paris on Friday about her return to the tournament.

“I wouldn’t want to say it hasn’t left my mind. Of course I’m still thinking about it, and I’m kind of also prepping just in case I go on the court and a fan says something like in Indian Wells.”

Osaka has a tough first-round draw as she faces 27th seed Amanda Anisimova – the young American who ended her Australian Open title defence in January.

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