Naomi Osaka’s return to the French Open ended in the first round on Monday, and the four-time Grand Slam winner said she is leaning toward not playing at Wimbledon.
After she lost her opening match to Amanda Anisimova 7-5, 6-4 at Roland Garros on Court Suzanne Lenglen, Osaka was asked about whether the collective decision to remove ranking points from Wimbledon would influence her decision on whether to compete at the next Grand Slam on the circuit.
“I’m not 100% sure if I’m going to go there [to Wimbledon],” Osaka said. “I would love to go just to get some experience on the grass court, but, like at the same time for me, it’s kind of like — I don’t want to say pointless, no pun intended, but I’m the type of player that gets motivated by, like, seeing my ranking go up or like, you know, stuff like that. So I think the intention was really good, but the execution is kind of all over the place.”
When later asked more on what her thoughts were ahead of Wimbledon, she said, “Yeah, like for me, I’m not sure why but, like, I feel like if I play Wimbledon without points, it’s more like an exhibition. I know this isn’t true, right? But my brain just like feels that way. Whenever I think like something is like an exhibition, I just can’t go at it 100%. I didn’t even make my decision yet, but I’m leaning more towards not playing given the current circumstances but, you know, that might change.”
Osaka is a four-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1 who took two mental health breaks last season. That included one that began when she withdrew before her second-round match at the French Open. Anisimova is a 20-year-old American who reached the French Open semifinals in 2019. She also beat Osaka in the third round at the Australian Open in January.
On Monday morning in Paris, Osaka double-faulted twice on break point, once in each set. After the second, which gave Anisimova a 4-3 lead, Osaka took a 40-0 lead in the next game, but the American held and closed out the match. “I thought I tried really hard, and I just feel like it was a bit unfortunate because I wasn’t able to play as many matches leading into this tournament,” Osaka said. “So there were probably some really bad decisions that I made on certain points, but I think overall I wasn’t too bad.”
Osaka played with tape on her left Achilles. She was stretching it and kicking it with her right foot when she was broken in the seventh game of the second set. She later said she could feel the Achilles injury, but it didn’t impact her game. “I still kind of felt it a little, which I’m going to see what happens when it wears off,” Osaka said. “I think, like, I kind of prepared myself to feel it, so that wasn’t really the wearing part. It was just annoying to me because, the last time I played here, our serves were really important. And, coming into this tournament, I didn’t serve a lot, because we kind of wanted to wait until last minute to protect my Achilles.”