Naomi Osaka returns to the French Open after last year’s controversy

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Naomi Osaka is back at the French Open looking for his first championship at Roland Garros.

Osaka withdrew from last year’s tournament on mental health grounds and vowed to avoid speaking to the media. She created a firestorm in the process, receiving support from some, criticism from others. Friday, her returned to the clay court and turned to the media.

“I’m not going to lie. When I first came here, I was very worried,” admitted Osaka. “I was just a little worried if there were people who – of course, I didn’t even like the way I handled the situation – but I was worried that there were people that I offended in some way, and I would just bump into them.

“But I think everyone was really positive, for the most part. I’m not so sure. I was also very worried about that. Press conference because I knew I would get a lot of questions about this. “

NAOMI OSAKA STARTS IN TEARS, SHORTLY LEAVES THE PRESS CONFERENCE AFTER A QUESTION ON RELATIONS WITH THE MEDIA

Naomi Osaka of Japan serves during her match against Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain during their second match on the fourth day of the Mutua Madrid Open at la Caja Magica May 1, 2022, in Madrid, Spain.

Naomi Osaka of Japan serves during her match against Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain during their second match on the fourth day of the Mutua Madrid Open at la Caja Magica May 1, 2022, in Madrid, Spain.
(Mateo Villalba / Quality Sport Images / Getty Images)

Last year’s Osaka decision to skip press conferences resulted in a $ 15,000 fine. She was also threatened with additional punishment from the other Grand Slam tournaments. She explained that at the time she was experiencing “huge waves of anxiety” by talking to the media and suffering from “long bouts of depression”.

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Naomi Osaka of Japan plays a forehand during a singles match against Andrea Petkovic of Germany at the Summer Set tennis tournament ahead of the Australian Open in Melbourne January 7, 2022.

Naomi Osaka of Japan plays a forehand during a singles match against Andrea Petkovic of Germany at the Summer Set tennis tournament ahead of the Australian Open in Melbourne January 7, 2022.
(Photo AP / Hamish Blair, file)

“For the most part, I think I’m fine,” he said Friday.

Osaka, which did not pass the third round at Roland Garros, had to deal with an Achilles tendon injury. Earlier this month she didn’t play in a clay court setup in Rome.

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“For me, there’s no way I’m not going to play this tournament. So obviously, you have to manage things,” Osaka said. “But, at the same time, I’m going to pop some painkillers … I’ve actually played a lot of Grand Slams with something.

“So I think maybe there is a chance to play really well when I have an injury, because I feel like I have nothing to lose.”

Naomi Osaka of Japan speaks to the press during Media Day at Roland Garros on May 20, 2022 in Paris.

Naomi Osaka of Japan speaks to the press during Media Day at Roland Garros on May 20, 2022 in Paris.
(Robert Prange / Getty Images)

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Osaka has designed no. 27 seeds from Amanda Anisimova in the first round. Their match is set for Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.