In a turn that has devastated tennis fans, superstars Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka have both announced that they won’t compete in the All England Grand Slam at Wimbledon. While the two have different reasons for deciding to step away from the event, they each announced the news last Friday only hours apart.
Rafael Nadal, the number three men’s tennis player in the world, is extremely close to overtaking Roger Federer’s record number of lifetime Grand Slam titles. However, he’ll skip out on this year’s Wimbledon tournament, citing a desire to preserve his body’s health for his long-term career. The number three player is also skipping the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
The Spanish superstar has historically found it extremely taxing to switch from clay-court season to grass-court season. After competing in the French Open last month, he found himself experiencing more difficulty than usual in transitioning back into grass-court play. Exacerbating his existing struggle with the court switch, Roland Garros was pushed back one week this year to account for the global medical situation.
That delay, paired with Nadal’s desire to preserve his body for future tournaments, has led him to take a hiatus from tennis for the next few months. He will likely return for next year’s tournament, according to sports analysts, as the French Open is unlikely to be pushed back again in 2022.
Naomi Osaka, the number two ranked women’s tennis player in the world, very publicly bowed out of the Roland Garros competition after a disagreement with the event’s organizers over media appearances. Osaka ducked the media following a tough defeat, leading to some tennis fans accusing her of using her fame to shirk her media obligations.
Osaka’s fans, meanwhile, contend that the star athlete was simply trying to avoid a relentless round of questioning after a brutal loss to preserve her mental health. Osaka went on to reveal that she struggles with depression, which informed her decision to drop out of both the French Open and Wimbledon.
Unlike Nadal, though, Osaka plans to compete in the Tokyo Olympics. The delayed Olympic Games will take place in July in Osaka’s home country, where her legion of dedicated fans is expected to be in attendance. At least, they’re expected to be in attendance where the limited seating capacity allows: the Tokyo Olympics expects to have some fans in the stands but will be closely monitoring the health situation in Tokyo to make sure the event is as safe as possible.