LONDON: Naomi Osaka pulled out of Wimbledon on Saturday, citing a lingering problem with her left Achilles tendon and marking the second consecutive year she’s decided to sit out the grass-court Grand Slam tournament.
The four-time major champion and former No.1-ranked player posted a photo of herself on a grass court and wrote on Twitter: “my Achilles still isn’t right so I’ll see you next time.”
Osaka has not played an official match since losing in the first round of the French Open to Amanda Anisimova 7-5, 6-4 on May 24. During that match, for which she said she took a painkiller, Osaka tried to stretch her tendon by tugging on the toe of her shoe at changeovers and squatting to flex her lower leg between points.
After that defeat, Osaka said she was leaning toward missing Wimbledon because the professional tennis tours aren’t ranking points awarded — a response to the All England Club’s decision to bar all players from Russia and Belarus over the war in Ukraine.
“I’m not sure why, but 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 feels that way. Whenever I think something is like an exhibition, I just can’t go at it 100%,” Osaka said then.
“I didn’t even make my decision yet, but I’m leaning more towards not playing, given the current circumstances.”
Eugenie Bouchard, who was the runner-up at the All England Club in 2014, announced Friday on social media that she would not play at Wimbledon because there are no ranking points available. Bouchard is working her way back from surgery on her right shoulder.
Osaka did not play at Wimbledon a year ago as part of a mental health break she took after pulling out of the French Open before her second-round match.
She has not won a match at the All England Club since getting to the third round in 2018.
Osaka lost in the first round of Wimbledon in 2019, and the tournament was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
All four of Osaka’s Grand Slam titles came on hard courts: at the US Open in 2018 and 2020 and at the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021. The 24-year-old Osaka has played only 17 matches this season and her ranking fell to No. 43 this week.