KISS's Gene Simmons and RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS' Flea have publicly thrown their support behind tennis star Naomi Osaka after she withdrew from the French Open.
The four-time major winner posted a statement on Twitter saying she was pulling out so that "everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris," adding that she would "take some time away from the court."
Less than a week ago, Osaka announced that she would not speak to press during the tournament, revealing she had "suffered long bouts of depression" since winning her first Grand Slam title in 2018. The French Open responded by fining her $15,000. Organizers also said that repeated violations could lead to tougher sanctions including default from the tournament. Press conferences are a requirement for all players.
Earlier today, Simmons took to his Twitter to share an ABC News article about the French Open's fine, and he included the following message: "I support Naomi Osaka."
In his own tweet, Flea wrote simply: "Naomi Osaka rules".
Osaka conceded that the timing of her previous announcement was "not ideal" and her message could have been clearer, but noted that she has suffered long bouts of depression since her victory at the US Open three years ago.
"This isn't a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago," Osaka said in her statement.
"I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being 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 that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly.
"The truth is that 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'm introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the 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 wanna apologize especially 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 preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that. I wrote privately to the tournament apologizing and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the Slams are intense.
"I'm gonna 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."
Naomi Osaka rules
— Flea (@flea333) May 31, 2021
I support Naomi Osaka. https://t.co/QPAsAiNalZ
— Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) May 31, 2021
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
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