“Completely Agree With Her”: 7-Time Grand Slam Champion Backs Naomi Osaka’s Move to Prioritize Tokyo Olympics Over Wimbledon Championships 2021

Published 06/23/2021, 7:57 AM EDT
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 30, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka in action during her first round match against Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig REUTERS/Christian Hartmann


Tennis stalwart Mats Wilander has made a bold prediction on women’s World No.2 Naomi Osaka at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 even as he backed her decision to prioritize the Summer Games over Wimbledon.

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The Japanese tennis star was at the center of a controversy with her decision to withdraw from Roland-Garros. She went on Twitter to announce her pullout after being threatened with expulsion by the tournament organizers for deciding not to do press in the tournament.

In a long note on Twitter, the 23-year-old revealed she had been battling mental illness for the last couple of years and had even faced bouts of anxiety attacks when it came to facing the press.

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Naomi Osaka will return stronger than ever at Tokyo Olympics

Even as the controversy raged on her withdrawal from the French Open, with many jumping to her support while some others saying media duties are part of the professional obligations of an athlete, Osaka announced her withdrawal from the Wimbledon Championships.

However, speaking to Eurosport, Wilander said he expects the reigning Australian Open champion to come out all guns blazing in the Japanese capital.

Osaka, who will lead the medal hopes of her country in the Japanese capital, will return “stronger than ever” at the Games, the seven-time Grand Slam champion said.

Tennis -WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 12, 2021, Japan’s Naomi Osaka in action during her second road match against Jessica Pegula of U.S. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

The Swede said what makes Osaka a stronger contender for singles gold at the Olympics is that the tennis will be played on hard court, her favorite surface.

Osaka will play the Olympics on her favorite surface

All four of Osaka’s career Grand Slam titles have come on hard courts.

“The Olympics are being played on her best surface, back home. It will inspire a generation of new athletes in Japan and I completely agree with her decision to skip Wimbledon and be ready for the Olympics,” the tennis great said.

The former Swedish champion added that he wasn’t surprised by the Japanese star’s withdrawal from Wimbledon.

He said since the controversy over her Roland-Garros pullout is yet to die down and the Wimbledon is close, she would have struggled to focus on tennis if she had entered the women’s draw.

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“It does not come as a surprise that she pulled out of Wimbledon. I think after what happened in Paris, Wimbledon comes a little bit too close. And I don’t know if you can recover or improve your mental health in just three or four weeks ahead of Wimbledon. So, I think she is doing the right thing,” Wilander added.

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The Tokyo Games will kick off from July 26, thus giving enough time to Osaka to regather herself and prepare for a golden campaign on home soil.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

1101 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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