Four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka has announced that she won’t be doing any press interviews during the French Open. Citing mental health concerns, 23-year-old Osaka revealed her decision on her social media pages.
“I’m writing this to say I’m not going to do any press during Roland-Garros (French Open). I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes (sic) mental health and this rings very 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’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me,” the tennis star explained.
“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,” she added.
Osaka will be aiming to win her first French Open title and missed last year’s tournament due to a hamstring injury. According to the 2021 official Grand Slam rule book, a player or team must attend post-match news conferences organized within 30 minutes of the end of their match, unless injured or physically unable to appear. A violation subjects a player to a fine of up to $20,000.
“Me not doing press is nothing personal to the tournament and a couple of journalists have interviewed me since I was young so I have a friendly relationship with most of them,” Osaka added. “However, 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 corporation then I just gotta laugh. Anyways, I hope the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity.”
Osaka was the highest-paid woman in sports for the second year in a row and pulled in more than $55 million last year alone, so the fine shouldn’t be a problem. The French Open tournament will run from May 30 to June 13.
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