Naomi Osaka Says She Gained’t Speak to Journalists on the French Open

Naomi Osaka, the four-time Grand Slam singles champion, introduced Wednesday that she is not going to do any information conferences on the French Open as a result of she mentioned they will too typically be damaging to the psychological well being of tennis gamers.

Osaka, 23, is likely one of the sport’s largest stars. She made the announcement on Instagram 4 days earlier than the beginning of the 12 months’s second Grand Slam.

Osaka mentioned she had watched too many gamers break down throughout information conferences and go away the dais in tears. She mentioned the method felt to her like “kicking an individual whereas they’re down.”

“If the organizations assume they will maintain saying, ‘do press otherwise you’re going to get fined,’ and proceed to disregard the psychological well being of the athletes which can be the centerpiece of their cooperation then I simply gotta snicker,” Osaka wrote. She mentioned she would settle for any fines levied in opposition to her for skipping the information conferences and requested that the funds be donated to a charity devoted to psychological well being.

Spokespeople for the WTA, the ladies’s skilled tennis tour, and the French Open weren’t instantly out there for remark.

Osaka made an estimated $55 million final 12 months in prize cash and endorsements.

She is hardly the primary athlete to say no to talk with the press. The N.F.L.’s Marshawn Lynch typically refused to talk with reporters when he was a star operating again with the Seattle Seahawks. He famously sat in entrance of microphones and refused to have interaction questions forward of the Tremendous Bowl following the 2014 common season. He garnered tens of hundreds of {dollars} in fines throughout the playoffs that 12 months.

Ted Williams, the Corridor of Fame baseball participant who performed his whole profession with the Pink Sox, additionally had an icy relationship with the Boston media and didn’t grant interviews for prolonged intervals.

Whereas some tennis tournaments have totally different guidelines, on the whole gamers should seem at a post-match information convention at a Grand Slam occasion if a journalist requests their presence, whether or not they win or lose. Fines for refusing are sometimes little various thousand {dollars}. In 2015, Venus Williams was fined $3,000 for skipping a information convention after a loss on the French Open. She and her sister, Serena, have been fined $4,000 every in 2010 for skipping a information convention at Wimbledon.

The French Open takes place on clay, which is taken into account Osaka’s worst floor. She is just not anticipated to win the match and may very well be upset in an early spherical. She has by no means made it previous the third spherical in Paris.

Attending a information convention, whatever the end result of a match, is taken into account an obligation tennis gamers fulfill to advertise their sport, which has struggled to keep up protection in some markets lately because the budgets of reports organizations have been slashed.

Billie Jean King, the Corridor of Fame participant who helped create the ladies’s professional tour, has spoken about visiting the sports activities editors within the markets during which she performed to beg them to ship sportswriters to cowl matches throughout the tour’s early years and the significance of gamers talking with the press to advertise the game.

“I like writers,” King mentioned throughout a latest interview. “At all times have.”

Osaka’s announcement comes three months after Serena Williams left a information convention in tears following a loss on the Australian Open. Williams left the rostrum following an innocuous query from a veteran Australian tennis journalist about her stage of play and her unforced errors after a semifinal loss to Osaka, who later received the match.

“I don’t know. I’m completed,” Williams mentioned earlier than abruptly leaving the room.

It’s not clear whether or not Osaka will even refuse to do tv interviews on the court docket after her matches. These interviews have develop into a staple of Grand Slam play and are usually not confrontational. Besides within the finals, solely the winner of the match is interviewed for tv on the court docket.

The query now’s whether or not any gamers will comply with Osaka’s lead and whether or not tennis officers will accede to her strain and alter the necessities.

Osaka is likely one of the most influential gamers on the planet. Final 12 months, tennis officers suspended play on the Western & Southern Open, a United States Open tuneup, after Osaka introduced that she would default her semifinal match to attract consideration to the difficulty of police violence in opposition to Black individuals following the capturing of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.

The suspension of play, a transfer that a number of sports activities undertook as athletes threatened a boycott, allowed Osaka to stay within the match. She received her postponed semifinal match after which defaulted the ultimate due to an damage.

Days later, she started her triumphant quest to win her second U.S. Open championship. She walked to the court docket for every match carrying a masks with the identify of a special particular person of colour who had been a sufferer of racist violence.

Usually, Osaka has a cordial relationship with the press, although she retains journalists, particularly these she doesn’t know, at a distance and infrequently grants interviews, even to the most important information organizations, although she has develop into a staple of trend journal covers. She mentioned her resolution to skip information conferences was not a private assault on the French Open or the handful of journalists who’ve interviewed her since her youthful years, “so I’ve a pleasant relationship with most of them.”

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