Even though Naomi Osaka decided to skip press conferences at the 2021 French Open in order to focus on her tennis, the result of her decision backfired. The four-time Grand Slam champion has been all over the news these days, as the media, tennis fans and players are commenting on whether or not she’s doing the right thing. One day after winning her first-round match in Paris and getting warnings that she could be defaulted from the tournament, the 23-year-old is announcing a shocking decision to withdraw.
In a long message on social media, Osaka explained:
This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.
The world No.2 further explained that she has suffered long bouts of depression since the 2018 US Open. Moreover, since she’s introverted, public speaking causes her a lot of stress. Wearing headphones at tournaments often helps dull her social anxiety. What she thought was a decision in the best interest of her Roland Garros campaign has developed into loads of media attention for all the wrong reasons:
Here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious, so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences. I announced it preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.
Osaka is not giving up on changing the rules that have been around for decades:
I’m gonna take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans.
Agree. The Federation has too much control over players. They aren’t slaves. Why talk to the Media, who can cause more anxiety. The questions can often be inflammatory and insulting. Let zhevyoung woman live.
I think she went about it the wrong way by making a public statement which was very combative. There was no way the French authorities could let her get away with it otherwise all the players would be saying they weren’t going to do it. If she had approached them privately and explained her reasons, she could have been given a dispensation which could have been explained to the other players. But if she is really so fragile that she can’t do media, may be she shouldn’t be playing at all. The problem is not the media, they are just being their normal selves, the problem is her state of mind. And it is ok to ask difficult questions.
HOWEVER, that said I do think they should change the system. Don’t make people do a press interview after every single match, and don’t make it so soon after the match – give the player time to come down and reflect and talk to their team before they have to articulate what went right or wrong in the match. And have a moderator in the interview to protect the player and tell the reporters to pull their heads in if they get out of line. Not all players might need it, but so what – make it a principle.
Sending support, ❤❤❤ and positive energy to Naomi and wishing her the best!!! I hope she can take some time to take care of herself!
CLT, I agree that Naomi just had a clumsy execution of her intention/need. Had she handled the situation differently, she wouldn’t have caused this chaos and drama. She certainly didn’t expect it to go this far.