Naomi Osaka’s French Open press boycott not meshing with fellow tennis stars
Naomi Osaka’s decision to boycott press events during the French Open didn’t exactly jive with her fellow tennis superstars, including No. 1-ranked Ashleigh Barty.
Osaka said earlier in the week she would be avoiding the media, citing the strain it causes her mental health. She said she knows she would be fined for skipping out on the press events but hoped the fines would go to a “mental health charity.”
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Barty, who is set to start her quest for a French Open title on Sunday against American Bernarda Pera, gave reporters her take on speaking with the media.
“We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players,” the Australian star said, via Reuters. “I can’t really comment on what Naomi is feeling or her decisions she makes.
“At times press conferences are hard, of course, but it’s also not something that bothers me. Certainly doesn’t keep me up at night what I say and hear or what you guys ask me.”
Iga Swiatek, who won the French Open last year, added she didn’t think it was “difficult” talking to reporters and said it gave her a chance to “explain our perspective.”
NAOMI OSAKA SAYS SHE WON’T SPEAK TO MEDIA AT FRENCH OPEN
Gilles Moretton, the president of the French Tennis Federation, also disagreed with Osaka’s position.
“It’s a deep regret, for you journalists, for her personally and for tennis in general,” he said, via Yahoo Australia. “I think this is a phenomenal mistake. It shows to what extent today (the need) that there is strong governance in tennis. What is happening there is, in my opinion, not acceptable. We will stick to the laws and rules for penalties and fines.”
Osaka, the No. 2 female tennis player in the world, made the announcement Wednesday.
“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” she said. “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.
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“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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.