Naomi Osaka has imposed a media ban during her upcoming French Open campaign, citing mental health reasons.

Osaka – the reigning Australian Open champion and four-time grand slam winner – announced the shock media boycott ahead of the Roland Garros event, which will get underway on Sunday.

Under French Open rules, typical of any tennis tournament, players are required to hold media conferences after each match.

Osaka is the world's highest earning female athlete and will be fined by tournament officials should the world number two follow through and not take part in news conferences.

Japanese star Osaka hopes the fines she will receive can be donated towards mental health charity.

"I'm writing this to say that I'm not going to do any press during Roland Garros," Osaka wrote on Twitter. "I've often felt that people have no regard for athletes' mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.

"We're often sat there and asked questions that we've been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I am not going to subject myself to people who doubt me.

"I've watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well. I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they're down and I don't understand the reasoning behind it.

"Me not doing press is nothing personal to the tournament … However, if the organisations think that they can just keep saying, 'do press or you're gonna be fined', and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are centrepiece of their co-operation then I just gotta laugh."

Osaka heads to Paris having never progressed beyond the third round of the French Open.

The 23-year-old skipped last year's French Open amid the coronavirus pandemic, though she claimed her second US Open crown at Flushing Meadows.

Simona Halep will miss this year's French Open due to a calf injury.

The 2018 champion at Roland Garros suffered a tear in her left calf while playing against Angelique Kerber at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome last week.

Halep posted a statement on Twitter on Friday confirming she will not recover in time to take part in the second grand slam of the season, which begins in Paris on May 24.

"It's with a heavy heart that I announce my withdrawal from Roland Garros this year,” the world number three said.

"Unfortunately the tear in my left calf muscle needs more time to recover and the timeline is just too short.

"Withdrawing from a grand slam goes against all my instincts and aspirations as an athlete, but it is the right and only decision to make.

"The thought of not being in Paris fills me with sadness, but I will focus my energy on recovery, staying positive and getting back on court as soon as it is safe to do so.

"Roland Garros 2022, I am coming for you! A bientot [see you soon!]"

Halep defeated Sloane Stephens to win the clay-court tournament three years ago, having previously lost finals in 2014 and 2017.

The 29-year-old Romanian – who also won Wimbledon in 2019 – made the quarter-finals at the Australian Open back in February, her run in Melbourne ended by Serena Williams.

Australian Open chief Craig Tiley is confident tennis' season-opening grand slam will take place in Melbourne next year despite suggestions the tournament may be played overseas.

The federal government in Australia is sticking to predictions that international borders will be closed until at least the middle of 2022, leaving the feasibility of hosting the Australian Open shrouded in doubt.

It has even been suggested in a recent ABC report that alternative destinations are being explored, with Dubai and Doha said to be being considered as potential venues.

But Tiley, speaking to RSN, believes the timeline on opening up borders will be altered in time for the tournament, which traditionally takes place in January.

"We're talking about two weeks of quarantine and the borders remaining closed until the middle of next year, but I'm an optimist," Tiley said.

"I think that's going to be too long. I think it's going to be brought forward because we're going to get on top of it with the vaccines and how we manage the virus.

"If we don't, we're going to be extremely challenged."

This year's tournament was blighted by logistical issues, with several players forced into quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus on chartered flights into Australia, while just days before the event was due to begin more than 500 players and officials were made to isolate after a worker at an Australian Open quarantine hotel tested positive for COVID-19.

Novak Djokovic, the men's singles champion in Melbourne, was chief among those critical of the conditions players had to endure.

"The players have been travelling around the world in a bubble so there's no place in the world anymore where there's quarantine requirements for them and so they're used to certain conditions," Tiley added.

"We [in Australia] still have this 14-day requirement but of course the positive is we don't have any community transmission of the virus."

Simona Halep revealed her Rome withdrawal this week was caused by a torn calf muscle, a blow that casts doubt on her prospects of playing the French Open.

Former world number one Halep had to be helped off court by coach Darren Cahill after she was injured while leading Angelique Kerber 6-1 3-3 in the second round of the Internazionali d'Italia on Wednesday.

The two-time grand slam champion on Friday announced the extent of her injury. Her misfortune comes with just over two weeks remaining until the clay-court grand slam at Roland Garros gets under way on May 30.

Wimbledon is the next major on the calendar after the Paris slam, with the All England Club tournament scheduled to start on June 28 in London.

"After an MRI here in Rome I can confirm that I have small tear high up in the left calf," Romanian Halep posted on her social media accounts.

"I will fly home today and begin recovery in the pool and gym on Monday.

"I'm staying positive and will do everything i can to speed up my return."

Halep, now 29 years old, won her first major title in Paris three years ago and went on to be crowned Wimbledon champion in 2019.

Andy Murray heads to Rome on Saturday with the drive to show there could be one last special summer in his career, and he has an early test against Novak Djokovic booked in.

Former world number one and 11-time grand slam finalist Murray has not played since the Rotterdam Open in early March, having been forced to pull out of the Miami Masters due to a groin injury.

Staying fit has been a problem for Murray since he required a hip resurfacing procedure in January 2019, to deal with a persistent problem that threatened his career.

He particularly wants to play Wimbledon and the Olympics this year, having won both events twice, and hopes to do so in good health.

The 33-year-old is waiting to learn whether he must go through qualifying for the French Open or if a wildcard awaits. He is not entered into the upcoming Internazionali d'Italia but will be in Rome all the same, working to get himself match-ready for the tests that lie ahead.

Murray said: "I want to get out there to be around the top players and top tournaments. On Sunday I've got a court booked with [Diego] Schwartzman and then Novak [Djokovic] in the afternoon.

"I want to play against the highest-level players possible because I think that will help me improve my game quicker."

Quoted in the British media on Saturday, Murray said: "I'm really looking forward to going away [on Saturday] and being among those guys and having a good few months this summer, with Wimbledon and the Olympics. I feel good right now."

Murray was ruled out of the Australian Open, which took place in February, after contracting COVID-19, and the groin injury in Miami was another major disappointment.

While he will be limited to the practice courts in Rome, Murray is aiming to fit in at least one tournament before the French Open, with Geneva and Lyon both staging events in the week ahead of Roland Garros qualifying.

"It's difficult for me to look too far into the future," said Murray, now down to 123rd in the ATP rankings. "I need to try and find a way of staying on the match court for longer. It has been extremely frustrating.

"When I had the operation on the hip I knew it was going to be unbelievably challenging. It just feels there are a couple of things that have happened this year which have been very unfortunate, that have been hard to take."

Wimbledon chiefs are to scrap the 'Middle Sunday' day off at the championships – and prize money for this year's tournament looks certain to be slashed.

The announcements came on the day the All England Club revealed it received £180million in insurance pay-outs after last year's tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, of which around £36million went to the Lawn Tennis Association.

Chairman Ian Hewitt said that from 2022 the Sunday at the end of the first week would become "a permanent part of our tournament schedule and we will become a 14-day tournament", with the move signalling the imminent end of 'Manic Monday', when every fourth-round match was squeezed into a packed schedule.

That is regarded by many as the most exhilarating day of the tennis year, although others consider it too busy, given the number of standout matches taking place.

From next year, those matches are now set to be split across the previously fallow Sunday and the second Monday or the championships.

Hewitt said: "Yes, that second Monday of course was popular with many, but it did create significant challenges. I'm not sure it really did full justice to that day's tennis.

"To be able to spread over two days does more justice to the play at that event."

He said the tournament should "be more accessible" on that weekend, with the Sunday having previously been given over to allowing groundstaff to have time to tend the courts, which can be in need of repair after the first six days of play.

"We are now confident we will be able to look after the courts, most particularly Centre Court, without a full day of rest," Hewitt said.

He said this year's tournament "will be different from Wimbledon as we know it", and organisers are currently planning for a 25 per cent capacity attendance, albeit still hoping to get the go-ahead to admit more spectators.

When play has happened on the middle Sunday in the past, typically due to a backlog caused by several days of rain meaning the tournament has fallen behind schedule, tickets have been made available to the general public and that has led to a vibrant, often more raucous, atmosphere.

Hewitt though signalled that would not be the ticket policy going forward, saying: "It's unlikely it's going to be like Middle Sundays in the past."

The 2021 prize money for players, who must remain in a bubble during the tournament and will not be allowed to rent private houses in London, is set to hinge on how many spectators Wimbledon is allowed to accommodate. A significantly reduced attendance would hit the event hard in the pocket, meaning prize money at the level of previous years would be impractical.

It paid out £38million to players in 2019, with the men's and women's singles champions, Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep, each picking up £2.35million

The players may only learn the 2021 prize fund a matter of days before the tournament begins, with no decision expected until June. Wimbledon begins on June 28.

"It is premature to make a judgement," Hewitt said, when asked about the prize money.

Chief executive Sally Bolton said Wimbledon was "absolutely determined to be back in style" and "to bring back sport and sporting events in the way that we know them", but pandemic considerations are limiting what it can achieve.

It has not yet been decided whether spectators will need to wear face coverings while watching matches, even though restrictions on normal life in the UK are due to be lifted on June 21.

Bolton said players may feel some "frustration" given their freedom of movement will be restrained, pointing to the "single environment" for competitors being a decision reached on the basis of dialogue with the UK government and Public Health England.

Carla Suarez Navarro revealed on Thursday she has overcome Hodgkin lymphoma, and the Spaniard is set to resume her tennis career.

The former world number six revealed last September she would undergo six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with the rare cancer.

Suarez Navarro vowed at the time to show "positivity in the face of adversity" and the 32-year-old has now announced she is cured.

The 32-year-old posted on social media: "Another step forward. Today I finished my treatment and overcame Hodgkin lymphoma.

"Thanks to all for your warm messages. Every word of support gave me strength during the past few months.

"All my gratitude to healthcare professionals who take care of us every day. I'M CURED!"

Carla Suarez Navarro announced two years ago that the 2020 season would be her last on the WTA Tour.

However, the WTA said she decided to has abandon that plan and would return to action, confirming her entry for the French Open which begins on May 30 in Paris.

Roger Federer has confirmed he will grace the clay courts at the French Open and Geneva Open.

The 20-time grand slam champion made his comeback at the Qatar Open last month after a long absence following knee surgery.

Federer was beaten by Nikoloz Basilashvili at the quarter-final stage in Doha before opting against playing in Dubai and Miami.

The 39-year-old Swiss on Sunday announced he will feature on home soil in a Geneva Open event that gets under way on May 16.

World number seven Federer will also be in the draw for the second grand slam of the year at Roland Garros, where he reached the semi-final two years ago in his first appearance at the Paris major since 2015.

He tweeted: "Hi everyone! Happy to let you know that I will play Geneva and Paris.

"Until then, I will use the time to train. Can't wait to play in Switzerland again."

Rafael Nadal will be a strong favourite to surpass Federer's tally of grand slam titles in Paris, where he has won the French Open a record 13 times.

The French Open will take place a week later than initially scheduled this year, a move aimed at increasing the possibility of spectators attending the event in Paris.

Action at Roland Garros was due to begin with qualifying on May 17, reverting back to a more traditional time in the tennis calendar after taking place last year in September and October.

That move was made due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, taking place after the US Open while Wimbledon was cancelled.

With France currently in a third nationwide lockdown as part of measures to slow the rise in COVID-19 cases, the ATP and WTA Tours released a joint statement on Thursday confirming the main draw at Roland Garros will now begin on May 30 instead.

"Tennis has required an agile approach to the calendar over the past 12 months in order to manage the challenges of the pandemic, and this continues to be the case," the statement read.

"The decision to delay the start of Roland Garros by one week has been made in the context of recently heightened COVID-19 restrictions in France, with the additional time improving the likelihood of enhanced conditions and ability to welcome fans at the event.

"Both the ATP and WTA are working in consultation with all parties impacted by the postponement to optimise the calendar for players, tournaments and fans, in the lead-up to and following Roland Garros.

"Further updates will be communicated in due course."

Rafael Nadal is the defending men's champion, the Spaniard having secured the clay-court title for a 13th time in 2020. However, there was a new winner in the women's tournament, Iga Swiatek of Poland defeating Sofia Kenin in the final.

A statement released from the Grand Slam Board backed the move to postpone the French Open, while also announcing the grass-court season will be reduced by one week as a consequence.

"All four grand slam tournaments are united in their view on the importance of a meaningful build-up to every grand slam, to provide players of all competitive levels with appropriate opportunities to practice, prepare and compete on the relevant surface," a statement released via Wimbledon's official website read.

"It was for this reason that the grand slams, together with the Tours, were supportive of changes to the calendar to create an enhanced grass-court season of three weeks between Roland Garros and the Championships from 2015 onwards. It is widely agreed that this change has been very successfully received.

"However, given the considerable challenges ahead of the FFT in staging Roland Garros, and to avoid further impact on the rest of the calendar, the grass-court season will be reduced by one week in 2021."

Wimbledon will remain as planned, the main draw beginning on June 28 with qualifying taking place the week beforehand.

Next month's French Open could be postponed amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to France's minister of sports.

France entered its third national lockdown on Saturday in a bid to halt another surge of COVID-19 cases, which had threatened to overwhelm hospitals across the country. 

Professional sporting events are largely exempt from the restrictions, but minister of sports Roxana Maracineanu has suggested the French Open could be put back from its scheduled May 23 start date.

"We are in discussions with them [the French Tennis Federation] to see if we should change the date to coincide with a possible resumption of all sports and major events," she told radio station France Info.

"Today, although high-level sport has been preserved, we try to limit the risks of clusters, of spreading the virus within professional sports."

Rafael Nadal won last year's French Open, which was postponed by four months, to pull level with Roger Federer's record of 20 grand slam titles.

Former world number one Roger Federer said he has no real expectations for his comeback event at the Qatar Open.

Federer has not played competitively since his semi-final exit at the 2020 Australian Open – the 20-time grand slam champion having undergone knee surgery last year.

The 39-year-old Swiss superstar opted not to travel to Melbourne for this year's Australian Open, but he is set to make his comeback in Doha.

Federer, who holds the record for most Qatar Open titles with three – will start his campaign against either Jeremy Chardy or Daniel Evans at the ATP 250 tournament.

"It's been a long year in some ways, especially rehabbing, being on crutches once and then for a second time, and finally I'm back on a tennis court again, working out, playing sets, playing points," Federer said.

"It's a true pleasure, it's a privilege actually after all this time. I didn't expect it to go as long as it did, we are where we are, I'm so excited to be back on a match court, you know, in a few days here.

"I'm really curious to find out how it's going to go, obviously there's an amazing amount of questions marks surrounding my comeback for me personally.

"I don't know what to expect, I know that expectations from myself are extremely low, and I'm just very happy that I'm playing a tournament again, regardless of the outcome of this event."

On whether he had doubts over returning, Federer added: "You always do have doubts, you know, when you have surgery, there are always days when you feel better and worse. But I think overall I am a very positive person, I have a great team around myself, my family, I am also very distracted, and you know, the idea was to be fully fit again, one day. For life or for tennis.

"So equally important to me, actually life is a little bit more important to me, I wanna go skiing and play basketball, I wanna go playing ice hockey, play tennis in the future, with my children or exhibition matches, you name it, so it's definitely worth it to go through all that pain you know. But the goal was, this is not I'm going to go out, I'm not happy with my knee, we're going to fix it, and then I'm going to come back.

"For me there was no other story to it, and rehab wasn't as hard as maybe people make it seem, even though people around me are very impressed how I go about it, but for me it's only but normal to be really, really professional about it."

Novak Djokovic made history after breaking Roger Federer's record for most weeks as world number one on the ATP Tour.

Djokovic surpassed Federer after beginning his 311th week as the number one player in the men's rankings on Monday.

Serbian star Djokovic reclaimed the top ranking from fellow superstar Rafael Nadal in February 2020 and finished as year-ending number one for the sixth time – tying the mark set by Pete Sampras.

Djokovic, who first topped the men's rankings in July 2011, went on to celebrate a record-extending ninth Australian Open title at Melbourne Park in February.

With Federer turning 40 in August and Nadal a year older, the 33-year-old Djokovic has time on his side in pursuit of more history.

Djokovic has won 18 grand slams, two adrift of Federer – who is set to make his long-awaited ATP comeback in Qatar this week – and Nadal.

"I think it's an ultimate challenge to be honest, of course, winning a slam and being in history, the longest-ever number one," Djokovic said in Melbourne last month.

"You can have a great grand slam, a great tournament, a great couple of months, or even a great season but to do it over and over again, to be actually contender for historic number one, you need to play well and have a consistency from January to November, ever single year.

"I've been fortunate to do that and put myself in a position to make history in that regard. I'm very, very proud of that and privileged to be in that position.

"It's also a relief because it has been definitely my main goal, other than winning slams and now that I'll be managing to achieve it, I'll focus myself more on slams and adapt my calendar and schedule because when you're going for number one, you have to play all year and you have to play all the biggest tournaments.

"You can't allow someone else to earn more points than you. It's like a constant pressure, I think, and expectations that you have to deal with. It's definitely fulfilling to achieve that."

Federer now sits sixth in the rankings, having not played competitively since the 2020 Australian Open.

Nadal remains second, though he is set to be leapfrogged by Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev in the next rankings release on March 15.

Russian Medvedev will be the first player, other than Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Andy Murray, ranked in the top two since July 2005.

Roger Federer said he is "very excited" ahead of his long-awaited return to the ATP Tour at the Qatar Open.

Federer has not played competitively since his semi-final exit at the 2020 Australian Open – the 20-time grand slam champion having undergone knee surgery last year.

The 39-year-old Swiss superstar opted not to travel to Melbourne for this year's Australian Open, but he is set to make his comeback in Doha next week.

Before departing for Qatar, Federer said on Friday: "It's been a year since my last travel to any event and I'm very excited.

"This is the moment where I could maybe thank all the people involved who made this possible.

"It's been a long and hard road. I know I'm not at the finish line yet, but it's good."

Federer holds the record for most Qatar Open titles with three, with his most recent success at the ATP 250 event coming in 2011.

The 103-time tour-level champion added: "I feel like I'm in a good place, I've been practising very well.

"Hope you guys also are going to tune in to watch it and I hope I see you again very soon. Take care everybody."

Federer and Spanish great Rafael Nadal have both won a record 20 major titles.

Veteran Federer is on the comeback trail and planning to play tournaments in Doha and Dubai in March, building up to Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, key goals for what might prove to be his final season on tour.

Former Wimbledon champion Michael Stich believes winning a ninth SW19 crown would be the perfect moment for Federer to bow out.

Stich told Stats Perform News recently: "It is clear that at some point he will stop. Many would have thought that already five years ago.

"We have no influence on that. I would wish for him to win Wimbledon and say after the final: 'You know what, I had a sick time, I'll stop.'

"There couldn't be anything better and that would give so much to the sport."

Serena Williams showed there would be no letting up in her relentless pursuit of tennis history as she hit the practice courts with one of the biggest names on the men's tour.

A semi-final defeat to Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open was the latest blow for Williams in her attempt to match Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles.

Stuck on 23 since winning at Melbourne Park in 2017, Williams has gone repeatedly close in the subsequent years without getting her hands on a major trophy.

She took to the courts with Bulgarian ace Grigor Dimitrov, a beaten quarter-finalist in Australia and former world number three, as part of her continuing bid to keep improving and stay focused on those title goals.

Dimitrov could not resist boasting about the prowess of the player he was hitting with, posting a video of their session and writing on Instagram: "My practice partner is better than yours."

He added a goat emoji, signalling his belief that Williams is the greatest of all time.

Williams gestured a fond goodbye to the Australian Open crowds after her loss to Osaka, and became tearful in an after-match news conference when asked if it was a final farewell.

"I don't know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn't tell anyone," said the 39-year-old.

Her next appearance on tour is expected to be at the Miami Open, starting on March 23, a tournament which has confirmed Williams, Osaka, Bianca Andreescu and Simona Halep among its field.

There was a little sibling envy from Venus Williams on Sunday when she questioned where Serena and Dimitrov were rallying.

"Omg are you guys hitting now? Where is my invite??" Venus wrote.

The next grand slam on the calendar is the French Open, beginning on May 23, while Serena may see Wimbledon, beginning on June 28, as providing her best chance of another slam.

She has won seven times at the All England Club, two behind the record held by Martina Navratilova.

Former champion Michael Stich urged tennis stars to "consider themselves lucky" when Wimbledon returns after last year's cancellation.

Prospects of the tournament going ahead in front of London crowds appear suddenly bright, with lockdown restrictions due to be lifted over the coming months.

There may still be restrictions on travel into the United Kingdom from abroad, however, by the time Wimbledon comes around. The fortnight-long tournament is due to begin on June 28, one week after all COVID-19 restrictions on daily life are scheduled to end in England.

Wimbledon has said it is planning for "scenarios of full, reduced and no public capacity", and it may be the ferrying of thousands of players and their support teams to the tournament that proves the greatest logistical headache.

The grass-court major was scrapped last year amid the pandemic, not taking place for the first time since the second World War.

The Australian Open quarantined for 14 days all the tennis players, entourages and officials who arrived in the country ahead of the recent grand slam in Melbourne, which led to some grumbling among tour stars.

Men's champion Novak Djokovic later said many players were reluctant to continue with the season if being confined to a hotel room was going to become the norm.

Stich, who beat fellow German Boris Becker in the 1991 Wimbledon final, says tennis pros should be grateful they have the opportunity to make a living, even if it means making a sacrifice. Given the proximity of the French Open to Wimbledon on the calendar, elite players may face plenty of time cut off from friends and family.

"I still believe that all the players should consider themselves lucky to actually be able to go to work. We do have a lot of sports competitions that do not have this luxury," Stich told Stats Perform News.

"Therefore, five weeks of quarantine might be a high burden for sure, I couldn't imagine that. But still, to actually participate in a tournament and to earn money through playing in that tournament, which is vital for many people these days, is definitely a present.

"We will have to wait and see what will happen to the pandemic and which scenarios we can create to play there. In Europe, the distances are small, so players should think about their travel arrangements.

"If players are, for example, in quarantine [at grass-court tournaments] in Stuttgart or Halle, they can enter the country through a transport method that can exclude themselves from the masses - then it is basically as if they entered a consistent quarantine.

"Maybe then it can become possible. I truly wish that Wimbledon will go ahead for the players and primarily for the fans."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.