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US Open champ Naomi Osaka pulls out of French Open with fitness concerns after suffering hamstring injury

US OPEN champion Naomi Osaka has pulled out of this month’s French Open due to fitness concerns.

The Japanese star won her second US Open – and third major title – when she beat Belarusian Victoria Azarenka 1-6 6-3 6-3 in New York last Saturday.

However, she said in a Twitter message posted this morning that she will not be fit to play the clay-court Slam in Paris, which starts on Sunday September 27, due to a lingering hamstring issue.

Her left leg had been heavily taped-up during her victory at Flushing Meadows.

Osaka, 22, said: “First and foremost, thanks so much for all the support over the last three weeks. I couldn’t have done it without you.

“Unfortunately I won’t be able to play at the French Open this year.

“My hamstring is still sore so I won’t have enough time to prepare for the clay.

“These two tournaments came too close to each other for me.

“I wish the organisers and players all the best.”

The world No3, who also won the Australian Open in 2019, has never gone past the third round in four attempts at Roland Garros.

Nonetheless, it is another blow to an event that had been moved from the spring to the autumn because of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

World No1 Ashleigh Barty will not defend her French Open singles title because of health and travel concerns.

In the men’s draw, the 20-time Slam winner Roger Federer is recovering from knee surgery.

French Open chiefs have cut the number of fans allowed to attend each day of the tournament from 11,500 to 5,000 because of surging coronavirus figures in the country.

Meanwhile, Osaka received praise from Billie Jean King following her activism during the US Open.

Osaka wore a different face mask for every match bearing the name of a black victim of violence in the US.

She had also boycotted the semi-finals of the Western & Southern Open for 24 hours in protest against racial inequality and police brutality - before withdrawing from the final due to the hamstring problem.

Naomi is really special and will be an amazing leader through the years because she cares. We are very fortunate to have her.

Billie Jean King on Naomi Osaka

King, 76, who has spent a lifetime fighting for equality in tennis, said: “Naomi is really special and I really think she will be an amazing leader through the years because she cares. We are very fortunate to have her in our sport.

“I love Osaka because when she is interviewed she actually looks at the interviewer.

“You can tell that she’s thinking and she has authentic, heartfelt answers.

“It’s so great when you see the young people pushing.

“And black lives do matter so I think it’s amazing what she is doing.

“Just think, she's 22 years old so she’s just getting started. I’m so happy that she’s using all the possibilities (technology) that she has.”

Tennis star Naomi Osaka welcomes her fans to visit her brain

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