In an open letter posted on Reddit, Mari Osaka explained Naomi‘s decision to skip press conferences at Roland Garros, trying to shed new light on the situation as her sister “sucks at explaining her actions most of the time”. The retired tennis player later removed the statement, assessing that it made the situation even worse.
The four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi’s unprecedented media boycott cost her $15,000 after her first-round victory. If she continues to stick to it, further sanctions may be imposed, including default from the tournament.
Mari defended Naomi’s perspective and explained why avoidance of journalists seemed like a necessary step that would help her older sister excel on clay:
So it’s a little hard for me to see all these different opinions from everyone and not being able to share Naomi’s side even just a little bit. She sucks at explaining her actions most of the time and she’s playing a Grand Slam so there’s even less of a chance that she will take her time to dwell and explain something that she doesn’t want to even think about. Right now she wants to focus solely on her matches and the tournament.
Naomi mentioned to me before the tournament that a family member had come up to her and remarked that she’s bad at clay. At every press conference she’s told she has a bad record on clay. When she lost in Rome R1, she was not OK mentally. Her conference was completely shattered and I think that everyone’s remarks and opinions have gotten to her head and she herself believed that she was bad on clay. This isn’t true and she knows that in order to do well and have a shot at winning Roland Garros she will have to believe that she can. That’s the first step any athlete needs to do, believe in themselves.
So her solution was to block everything out. No talking to people who are going to put doubt in her mind. She’s protecting her mind hence why it’s called mental health. So many people are picky on this term thinking you need to have depression or have some sort of disorder to be able to use the term mental health.
I don’t know what she is going to do in the future when the tournament pushes back and threatens to default her, but I fully support my sister’s actions because she’s just trying to do what’s best for her. Tennis players don’t get paid to do press conferences. They only get paid when they win matches.
There is the argument that she can afford to skip while others can’t. What if they want to and she’s setting precedent so that they can in the future if wanted? When I lost my one WTA match where I had to do a press conference afterwards I broke down in the room unfortunately and then saw headlines after of me, crying. It was embarrassing and it’s forced on players. Some can take it and some struggle with it.
Thanks if you took the time to read my thoughts. I hope it gives more clarity to those of you that feel the need to judge others harshly when they don’t follow the rule book.
Not long after Mari’s open letter, Naomi shocked everyone by withdrawing from Roland Garros on the second day of the tournament “so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.”