Naomi Osaka’s made the right move skipping Wimbledon and will return at the Tokyo Olympic Games stronger as a result, Hall of Famer Mats Wilander said.
Reigning Australian Open and US Open champion Osaka announced she was taking time off from the sport to spend time with her family after experiencing anxiety and depression. Wilander said given the relatively quick turnaround time between Roland Garros and Wimbledon, Osaka is wise to miss the grass-court Grand Slam.
“It does not come as a surprise that she pulled out of Wimbledon,” Wilander told Eurosport. “I think after what happened in Paris, Wimbledon comes a little bit too close. And I don’t know if you can recover or improve your mental health in just three or four weeks ahead of Wimbledon. So, I think she is doing the right thing.”
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Wilander expects Osaka to return to the Tokyo Olympics refreshed—and bolstered by support from her home fans while playing on her favored hard-court surface.
“I do agree that if the Olympics are in your country and you are the biggest star your countr yhas, you have a responsibility towards the Olympics and towards your country, more than playing Wimbledon,” Wilander told Eurosport. “[Naomi] will be playing Wimbledon for another 10 years.”
Wilander, who won Grand Slam titles on three different surfaces, suggested Osaka will consider reducing her social media presence but believes she will return empowered and find her comfort zone on hard courts.
“The Olympics are being played on her best surface, back home,” Wilander said. “It will inspire a generation of new athletes in Japan and I completely agree with her decision to skip Wimbledon and to be ready for the Olympics. “
I think that she has to think about the consequences of her presence on social media and I guess she will learn from this experience more than we can imagine. So, I expect her to come back stronger than ever when she’s back on the hard courts.”
Photo credit: Mutua Madrid Open