The 2021 Wimbledon is one of the most-watched tennis tournament after it returned following a one-year gap but the bad news for fans was the absence of Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka. So why didn’t Nadal and Osaka participate at the 2021 Wimbledon?
Wimbledon, one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world, is about to begin. Playing at the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, fans are excited to see the tournament return having been cancelled in 2020.
The 2021 Championships mark Wimbledon’s 134th edition and will be taking place between Monday 28 June and 11 July.
But things might look a little different this year for fans and those participating in tennis betting, with the news that star tennis players Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka have pulled out of the tournament. For more info on this big news in tennis, read on for all the details.
Osaka’s Time Out
It was in late May of 2021 that Osaka withdrew her place from the French Open. It was following being fined $15,000 — and threats of suspension in the tournament — by officials for opting out of the mandatory media activities. Osaka defended her choice to not speak to the media, explaining she was dealing with anxiety and depression.
She added that she had been struggling with it since her 2018 US Open win against Serena Williams, where she experienced the crowd booing and jeering at her for beating the US Champion.
Having withdrawn from the French Open, Osaka announced she’d be spending time with family and friends to improve her mental health.
The four-time Grand Slam champion then announced that she would not be playing Wimbledon, which came as a disappointment to her many fans around the world. She has said she’ll be ready and in good health to play in the Tokyo Olympics in just six weeks’ time, where she’ll be representing her home country of Japan.
Born in Japan, Naomi lived in the United States since she was three.
Her career kicked off at age 16 when she defeated the former US Open Champion Samantha Stosur during her WTA Tour debut in 2014. In 2018, she famously defeated Grand Slam singles Champion Serena Williams at just age 23.
Interesting to note is that Osaka is one of the world’s most marketable athletes — and was ranked eighth in endorsement income during 2020. She was also named 2020 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year.
Her powerful serve can reach an incredible 201 kilometres per hour. And with Osaka pulling out of the tournament, Australian professional tennis player Ashleigh Barty has come in at a 6/1 favourite (at the time this article was written).
Another Disappointment for Tennis with Nadal
Fans were left devastated after Rafael Nadal announced his withdrawal of the Wimbledon tournament hours within Osaka’s announcement. He also said he will not be playing in the Tokyo Olympics, adding further disappointment to fans.
The 35-year-old player said his withdrawal was necessary in order to protect his body. He’ll be missing his chance to overtake Roger Federer, thereby securing a record men’s 21st Grand Slam title. He revealed the news on Twitter to the media and his fans.
Born in Spain, Nadal had an incredible start to his career while in his teens. Coached by his uncle Toni, he was one of the most successful teenagers to play in the ATP tour and reached No. 2 across the world at the young age of 19.
Now ranked number three by the ATP, he has previously been ranked number one for 209 weeks and has won a total of 20 Grand Slam men’s single titles — an all-time record that shared with the equally incredible Roger Federer.
The only left-handed player of the Big Three (which includes Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovik) he’s known to be one of the best at breaking serve while also having a strong forehand.
He represents Spain in the Olympics where he has a gold medal in both doubles and singles. He’s said to the media that the choice to not play in this year’s tournament or the Olympics is in a drive to prolong his career.
He’s suggested recently that the clay court has had a negative impact on his body — although the player has battled knee injuries throughout his longstanding career. He’s also suggested that the lack of time between RG and Wimbledon has made it difficult for his body to recuperate. He sent a special message to his fans around the world, both at Wimbledon and Japan especially.
What Impact Will It Have on the Game?
Only time will tell. Of course, those who follow both Osaka and Nadal will feel their absence at the tournament, as will those who were meant to play against them. The summer is usually the peak for tennis, with three grand slams over a three-month period.
Several others have joined Osaka and Nadal in withdrawing from one or both sporting events, including Dominic Thiem, David Goffin and Denis Shapovalov. Some pundits expect more will follow suit.
This is partially due to the strict protocols in Tokyo, and the fact that all the tennis will be played over just one week, making for a demanding schedule after an already demanding year for players.
Still, many more players are planning on sticking to the plan, making for an exciting time for tennis friends around the globe.