Naomi Osaka unsure on Wimbledon after ranking points decision

Naomi Osaka did not play at Wimbledon in 2021
Dates: 22 May-5 June Venue: Roland Garros, Paris
Coverage: Live text and radio commentaries of selected matches across BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, the BBC Sport website and app

Four-time major winner Naomi Osaka is not sure she will play Wimbledon, saying that without ranking points it is “more like an exhibition”.

The ATP and WTA stripped the points after Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarusian players over Russian’s invasion of Ukraine.

Osaka did not criticise the move but said earning points was a motivation.

“The intention of this measure was good, but the execution is all over the place,” she said.

“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 like feels that way. Whenever I think like something is like an exhibition, I just can’t go at it 100%.

“I didn’t even make my decision yet, but I’m leaning more towards not playing given the current circumstances.”

Former world number one Osaka, 24, was speaking after her first-round defeat by Amanda Anisimova at the French Open on Monday.

The Japanese player is 38th in the world rankings after taking several breaks from the sport last year to protect her mental health.

She missed Wimbledon, where she has never gone beyond the third round, as a result.

“I would say the decision is kind of affecting my mentality going into grass. I’m not 100% sure if I’m going to go there,” Osaka said.

“I would love to go just to get some experience on the grass court, but at the same time I’m the type of player that gets motivated by seeing my ranking go up.”

Players will receive ranking points from the grass-court events held in the UK in the build-up to Wimbledon, which starts on 27 June.

Osaka is the highest-profile star to indicate she might not play at the All England Club.

Poland’s Iga Swiatek, who has a huge lead at the top of the WTA rankings, said: “For me, it’s Wimbledon. It’s one of the most important tournaments in the season. I’m OK playing without points.

“But there is war going on. So I look at it more from that way than what’s going happen on rankings.”

American Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, said: “The decision that’s been taken obviously wasn’t taken lightly. When you are backed into a corner and that’s all you can do.

“That’s why the decision was made, and I support it.”

British men’s number one Cameron Norrie said he was “very disappointed” and feared Wimbledon would become like an exhibition.

“I’d have liked points there. It is tough as a Brit playing in my home Slam and not being able to fight for ranking points,” the world number 11 said.

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