Barty, Swiatek, Nadal comment on Osaka’s French Open media boycott

10

Naomi Osaka has decided to skip press conferences at this year’s French Open, in order to preserve her mental health and focus on tennis. It is a bold move by the influential 23-year-old and she is ready to pay fines for her unprecedented decision.

The tennis community understands that it is often not easy to face the media and answer numerous, often repeated questions, especially after tough losses, but it can’t be overlooked that those very journalists play an important part in spreading the sport’s popularity and putting tennis stars among the highest-earning athletes in the world.

Fellow Grand Slam champions Ashleigh Barty, Iga Swiatek and Rafael Nadal commented on whether chats with the press are affecting their mental stability and what they think about Osaka’s decision.

The 2019 French Open winner Barty said:

In my opinion, press is kind of part of the job. We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players. I can’t really comment on what Naomi is feeling or her decisions.

At times, press conferences are hard, of course, but it’s also not something that bothers me. I’ve never had problems answering questions or being completely honest with you guys.

Rafael Nadal has won Roland Garros thirteen times and has been honored with a steel statue at tournament site. The ATP ace has tons of experience with the media and understands how important they are for the worldwide success and recognition the players are enjoying:

I understand her, but on the other hand, for me, without the press, without the people who normally are traveling, who are writing the news and achievements that we are having around the world, probably we will not be the athletes that we are today. We aren’t going to have the recognition that we have around the world, and we will not be that popular, no?

Nineteen-year-old Swiatek, who is defending her Roland Garros title this year, also respects the media presence:

I feel that the media is really important as well because they are giving us, you are giving us, a platform to talk about our lives and our perspective. It’s also important, because not everybody is a professional athlete, and not everybody knows what we are dealing with on court. It’s good to speak about that. We have like two ways to do that: media and social media. It’s good to use both of these platforms and to educate people.

The WTA states that they welcome a dialog with athletes and care about their mental health, but media obligations are an integral part of the sport. Billie Jean King, the most important person for the rise of women’s tennis, is disappointed by Osaka’s decision:

In our day, without the press, nobody would have known who we are or what we thought. There is no question they helped build and grow our sport to what it is today. I acknowledge things are very different now with social media and everyone having an immediate ability to speak their truth. The media still play an important role in telling our story. There is no question that the media needs to respect certain boundaries. But at the end of the day, it is important we respect each other and we are in this together.

(quotes via The New York Times, photos: Jimmie48)


10 COMMENTS

  1. Saying without the (media) the players wouldn’t be as big and who they are ( maybe 20 + years ago not today), We are in 2021 and with the Inception of the Interweb and Social Media the fans don’t need like back in the day the Sports Media to know what’s going on with the players, They can get all their fix through these players Social Media Platforms, and quite frankly the players can provide much more about themselves than the press can.

    The majority of fans don’t even watch or care for the after-match Press conference since they go directly to those players Social media platforms and will get the 411 on what that player will be doing be it for dinner/shopping their next match/ vacation you name it. The only thing that takes place in those after Match interviews are your BORING CLICHE questions that get asked OVER AND OVER every Single match and if it’s not that it’s someone bringing up an oddball question that could be deemed Disrespectful.

  2. Sam, I think that media still play a large role and social media platforms can’t replace them. Each has their own role and together they increase the media presence of a player and popularity of the sport.

  3. I am with Naomi too. We don’t need those boring press conferences anymore. They get the same questions over and over again, and they provide the same answers likewise. One press session before the tournament starts would be so enough. (If a player does not show up at the press after the match, they get fined with 16,000$ – I find this very disturbing.)

  4. I think it’s her decision, not the media that made tennis popular its you all tennis players, myself don’t pay attention to the media just the matches. There lots of tennis players that like the attention.

  5. This is a matter of who pays for the prize money and the simple answer is sponsors. There are companies that have paid big dollars to have their logos displayed during these press conferences hence if she doesn’t attend them then she maybe should forfeit her prize money or bare minimum have it drastically reduced

  6. CDT, what you’re saying is true and there’s more to it. Press coverage does contribute to the popularity of the sport and is to a great extent the reason why Naomi has the opportunity to earn so much money. That’s what King is well aware of and younger generations, with their naturally limited experience, don’t always understand and regard King as old-fashioned.

  7. If you earn £55m it comes at a cost – all sport involve media – boring questions and interviews. All other sports people deal with it. If you can’t then this is not the place for you to earn your living. After all Osaka spends an inordinate amount of time fashion photo posts – which she loves. Ahe has the platform. But she can’t have it both ways

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here