AFP
2 minute read
16 Jun 2021
3:16 pm

Osaka still set to play Wimbledon; Williams, Murray get wildcards

AFP

The Japanese star was fined after refusing to do any press conferences at Roland Garros and subsequently withdrew from the tournament, citing depression and anxiety.

Naomi Osaka of Japan, seen here at the French Open, has given no indication she won't be at Wimbledon later this month. Picture: Gallo Images

Wimbledon organisers say Japanese star Naomi Osaka is still down to play at the Grand Slam event which starts later this month and has not given any indication she will skip it.

The 23-year-old four-time Grand Slam winner said following her withdrawal from the French Open that she was taking some time out of the game as she battles depression and anxiety.

However, on Wednesday All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton said as things stood Osaka would be at the championships, which get under way on June 28.

Open for discussions

“We’ve reached out to her team, we haven’t spoken to Naomi herself,” said Bolton. “At this point in time she’s entered into the championships and we haven’t received confirmation that she won’t compete.”

Tournament director Jamie Baker said he had told Osaka’s entourage that the phone lines were always open to discuss any issues that might arise.

“I had the conversation with her team,” said Baker.

“It’s absolutely clear that we’re here, we’re completely open for any discussions when they want to have that. Hopefully it goes without saying that we want the best players competing here no matter what.”

Spotlight

World number two Osaka has been in the spotlight since withdrawing from the French Open.

She was fined $15,000 and threatened with disqualification from Roland Garros after she refused to honour mandatory media commitments.

French Open organisers protested that they had treated her with “care and respect” after they were accused of being heavy-handed.

Osaka lost in the third round of Wimbledon in 2017 and 2018 and bowed out in the first round in 2019. Last year’s tournament was cancelled due to coronavirus.

Wildcards

Meanwhile, Andy Murray and Venus Williams — who have won seven Wimbledon singles titles between them — have been given wildcard entries for this year’s championships.

Britain’s Murray won the second of his two Wimbledon titles in 2016 but due to persistent injury problems is ranked 124, which is outside the cut-off for direct qualification.

The 34-year-old beat Frenchman Benoit Paire at Queen’s on Tuesday in his first singles match since March.

Five-time champion Williams, 40, will be competing in her 90th Grand Slam and is ranked 103rd in the world.

Her French Open campaign came to an early end when she was beaten in the first round by Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova.