Naomi Osaka did indeed skip her mandatory press conference following her first-round win over Patricia Maria Tig at the French Open and has been fined $15,000. Tournament officials are warning her that they could impose further sanctions if the Japanese continues to reject her obligations.
Press conference boycott
The world No.2 Osaka stayed for an on-court interview after her Sunday’s victory and exchanged a few words with Fabrice Santoro, former ATP player who works as a journalist at Roland Garros. However, in order to preserve her peace and mental health, the four-time Grand Slam champion didn’t show up in the conference room to answer media questions. The Roland Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 fine, in keeping with article III H. of the Code of Conduct.
On Wednesday, Osaka announced her decision to not talk to the press at this year’s French Open. Her stance received mixed reactions. People mostly understand her need to preserve her mental calmness and focus on tennis. Still, fellow top players such as Ashleigh Barty, Iga Swiatek and Rafael Nadal also understand that time dedicated to the media is a necessary part of their job and plays an important part in making tennis what it is today.
Further sanctions include default from Roland Garros and even future Grand Slam suspensions
Grand Slam tournaments issued a statement, saying that they contacted Osaka and checked on her well-being. They offered support and suggested dialog, but to no avail. They stressed that the rules are the same for all players and explained that showing up at mandatory media interviews is a responsibility which players take for the benefit of the sport, the fans and for themselves. As the WTA star stood by her decision, the tournament warned her that further, much tougher sanctions can be imposed:
We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences. As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament (Code of Conduct article III T.) and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions (Code of Conduct article IV A.3.).
The statement was signed by Jayne Hrdlicka, Tennis Australia Chair & President, Gilles Moretton, FFT President, Ian Hewitt, AELTC Chairman, and Mike McNulty, USTA Chairman of the Board & President.
Early in his career, Dominic Thiem would go on social media (Facebook initially, then Twitter) and evaluate each and every match, win or lose (in German & English BTW) He doesn’t do that anymore , but he does always answer questions thoughtfully at the post match interviews. He is slower to respond on SM, lately, especially after a loss. He admits to the mental stress on the ATP tour, so maybe he should consult a sports psychologist, like Iga Swiatek does. After a brutal loss today in the first round of the French Open, he stepped up at the presser afterwards and had some insightful comments about his game. In my view Naomi Osaka should put her big girl pants on and commit to these post match pressers. Yet, maybe she too could have a consult with Iga’s psychologist. So the French Federation and Grand Slam event coordinators offered her support and suggested dialog, and checked on her well being? Hmm, I wonder if there is an on-site psychologist to consult? Just askin’.
I think she should just be smarter on answering question from the media. If the questions are getting too personal, she should divert it and focus on her tennis topic. I think one of the ways to be a superstar is to know how to handle media’s trick questions.
Jim, this is one part of their statement where they say that they did try to hear her side of the story and help her:
“The Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open jointly wrote to her to check on her well-being and offer support, underline their commitment to all athletes’ well-being and suggest dialog on the issues. […] The mental health of players competing in our tournaments and on the Tours is of the utmost importance to the Grand Slams. We individually and collectively have significant resources dedicated to player well-being. In order to continue to improve however, we need engagement from the players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experiences. ”
Personally, I hope Naomi will overcome this and we’ll be back to normal. Even though she is very powerful right now, I don’t believe that she has the power to change this system, which is maybe harsh on the players, but at the same time it supports their careers.
Moreover, don’t you guys think that with this boycott she even worsened her situation, as now there is so much drama in the media and everyone is talking about it. I bet Naomi can’t ignore the situation right now and it is still affecting her in a bad way. When she eventually gets back to press conferences, she will be bullied with questions about this. She could’ve just routinely finished press conferences and went on with her day.