Naomi Osaka’s return to the French Open ended in the first round on Monday, and the four-time Grand Slam winner said she was leaning against playing at Wimbledon.
After losing her opener to Amanda Anisimova 7-5, 6-4 at Roland Garros on Court Suzanne Lenglen, Osaka was asked if the collective decision to take away ranking points at Wimbledon would influence her decision whether or not to participate in the next Grand Claquer on the circuit.
“I’m not 100% sure if I’m going to go. [to Wimbledon]”, Osaka said. “I’d love to go there just to get some experience on the grass court but, at the same time for me, it’s kind of like — I don’t mean useless, no game of words, but I’m the kind of player that’s motivated by, like, seeing my ranking go up or liking, you know, stuff like that. So I think the intention was really good, but the execution is all over the place.”
When asked, later, more about what she thought before Wimbledon, she said: “Yeah, like for me, I don’t know why but, like, I feel like if I play at Wimbledon without points it’s more like an exhibition. I know that’s not true, right? But my brain is like that. Whenever I think something looks like an exhibition, I just can’t go 100%. I haven’t even made up my mind yet, but I’m leaning more towards not playing given the current circumstances but, you know, that could change.”
Osaka is a four-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1 who took two mental health hiatuses last season. This included one that started when she pulled out ahead of her second-round match at Roland Garros. Anisimova is a 20-year-old American who reached the French Open semi-finals in 2019. She also beat Osaka in the third round of the Australian Open in January.
Monday morning in Paris, Osaka committed two double faults 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 on and closed the match. “I thought I really tried, and I just feel like it was a bit unfortunate because I couldn’t play so many matches before this tournament,” Osaka said. “So there were probably some really bad decisions I made on some points, but I think overall I wasn’t too bad.”
Osaka played with duct tape on his left Achilles. She was stretching her and kicking her with her right foot when she was broken in the seventh game of the second set. She said later that she could feel Achilles’ injury, but it didn’t impact her game. “I still felt it a bit, and I’ll see what happens when it does. will dissipate,” Osaka said. “I think, like, I kind of prepared myself to feel it, so it wasn’t really the attrition part. It was just boring for me because, the last time I played here, our serves were really important. And, coming into this tournament, I didn’t serve much, because we kind of wanted to wait until the last minute to protect my Achilles.”