Naomi Osaka back at French Open after last year's controversy

Osaka bowed out of last year’s tournament citing mental health reasons and vowed to avoid talking to the media. She created a firestorm in the process, receiving support from some, criticism from others. On Friday, she returned to the clay court and addressed the media.

“I’m not going to lie. When I first came here, I was very worried,” Osaka admitted. “I was just kind of worried if there would be people that — of course, I also didn’t like how I handled the situation — but I was worried that there were people that I offended some way, and I would just kind of bump into them.

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

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

Osaka’s decision last year 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 at the time she was experiencing “huge waves of anxiety” talking to the media as well as suffering “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 Jan. 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 Jan. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair, File)

“For the most part, I think I’m OK,” she said Friday.

Osaka, who hasn’t advanced past than the third round at Roland Garros, has been dealing with an Achilles injury. She didn’t play in a clay court tune-up in Rome earlier this month.

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

“So I think maybe there is a possibility I could play really good when I have an injury, because I feel like I don’t have anything to lose.”

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

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

Osaka drew No. 27 seed Amanda Anisimova in the first round. Their match is set for Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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