Naomi Osaka will skip Roland Garros press conferences to preserve mental health

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Close to midnight Paris time on Wednesday, Naomi Osaka shocked the tennis world by announcing that she will not talk to the press at Roland Garros and is ready to pay fines for such a decision. The reason is that she wants to safeguard her mental well-being.

Naomi Osaka of Japan during Wednesday’s practice ahead of the 2021 French Open

I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ 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.

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.

The 23-year-old Osaka thinks it’s ridiculous that organizations are fining athletes that are the centerpiece of their events for not being willing to do press conferences. The WTA star is aware of the fact that she’ll get penalties for this decision, but she does not care, as long as she preserves her peace:

I hope that the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity.

Money is definitely not a problem for Osaka. She’s earned a female athlete record $55.2 million over the last 12 months, with $5.2 million from prize money and an estimated $50 million off the court.

This is not the first time that the young tennis ace is stepping up for her beliefs. At last year’s Western & Southern Open, Osaka pulled out before her semifinal against Elise Mertens in support of Black Lives Matter, only to be persuaded to show up in the final four the next day. (photo: Jimmie48)


7 COMMENTS

  1. I respect her decision but hopefully it’s only for this upcoming French Open because obviously that’s not a good example to follow. Imagine many young athlete follow this kind of act. You needs media during your sponsorship obligation, while winning tournament and others so be fair and face them while facing your worst situation as well. Also press will indirectly train you how to be stronger mentally. This time, it will only shows she’s mentally weak and other players will know she’s not confident enough to play on clay.

  2. She’s setting an example that others can’t follow for a variety of reasons. We’ll see how it plays out. I’ve always respected and admired Osaka. Not so sure she couldn’t be stronger here and use press conferences in another way to talk about issues she feels are important. m

  3. To Alip – I don’t think that press conferences can help to be stronger mentally. There’re often really silly and innapropriate questions, very disconnected with tennis so I think it’s a good decision of her. Especcialy knowing that she’s not the greatest player on clay. So it can help her focus only on tennis

  4. I am obviously not in her shoes, but from my point of view the decision is not a good one. It shouldn’t be taken as an example by other players and I hope it’s only for this Roland Garros. It is true that athletes are the most important parts of the tournament puzzle, but if there weren’t for the media, we wouldn’t be having tennis where it is today and she would be earning pennies.

  5. I highly respect Osaka as slams champion, but this is a poor decision from Naomi, shows she has a weak mindset, how do you think the past champions dealt with the pressure from the media? Remember Maria when media twisted facts with her doping case? Or Serena with her controversies at the US open? They faced the media and handled themselves well.

  6. Quit being so judgemental and mean! Naomi is an individual. She like all of you “judges” has her own unique fingerprint. She’s good at her sport, she’s young, rich, beautiful. Do I detect jealousy, envy, hatred even? I hope not! Try being kind sometime!

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