Naomi Osaka Fined $15,000 USD After Refusing To Speak To Press at French Open
All she was trying to do was look after her mental health.
UPDATE (May 30, 2021): Last week, Naomi Osaka announced that she wanted to prioritize her mental health by not speaking to any press during the French Open. “If the organizations 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 the centerpiece of their cooperation then I just gotta laugh,” Osaka said in her post.
However, according to NBC, the four-time Grand Slam singles champion was in fact fined by tennis officials such as the U.S. Tennis Association, the French Tennis Federation, the All England Lawn Tennis Club and Tennis Australia. Heads of the French tournament asked Osaka to “reconsider her position and tried unsuccessfully to speak with her to check on her well-being,” as per a joint statement.
“Naomi Osaka today chose not to honor her contractual media obligations. The Roland Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 USD fine, in keeping with article III H. of the Code of Conduct,” the statement mentioned. “The mental health of players competing in our tournaments and on the Tours is of the utmost importance to the Grand Slams.” The four organizations stated that they have “significant” resources that benefit the well-being of athletes, but “to continue to improve, however, [they] need engagement from the players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experiences.”
If Osaka doesn’t comply with her media appearance “obligations,” the tennis star could “be at risk of default from the tournament and suspension from other competitions for repeated violations.”
Osaka has not yet commented on the situation. Stay tuned while we wait for more information to surface.
ORIGINAL STORY (May 28, 2021): Naomi Osaka is set to go up against Patricia Maria Țig on May 30 at the French Open, also known as Roland Garros. Earlier this week, the four-time Grand Slam singles champion took to Instagram and Twitter to inform the public that she will not speak to any press during Roland Garros.
“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,” Osaka explains. “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’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me,” she adds.
The tennis star also points out how she has watched many videos online of players breaking down after a loss in the press room. Disheartened by the clips, Osaka compares that sort of situation to “kicking a person while they’re down.” “If the organizations 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 the centerpiece of their cooperation then I just gotta laugh,” Osaka says.
With Osaka sitting out in doing any press at this year’s French Open, it is unclear if she will also not take part in news conferences at other future tournaments. You can head over to Osaka’s Instagram page to read the full statement.