Naomi Osaka announced this week that she wouldn’t be doing post-match interviews during the French Open in an effort to preserve her mental health.
Naomi was issued her first fine for not participating in post-match Interviews during the French Open — as well as a grave warning about more serious consequences she may face if she continues to skip out on press conferences.
On Sunday, days after the 23-year-old tennis star announced she wouldn’t be doing press during the championship in an effort to preserve her mental health, Osaka picked up her first win and a $15,000 fine.
The board of Grand Slam tennis tournaments also released a statement on Sunday, warning that she could face possible expulsion in the future.
“Naomi Osaka announced last Wednesday on social media that she would not participate in the mandatory media interviews at Roland-Garros 2021,” read the joint statement from the French Open as well as the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and Australian Open.
“Following this announcement, the Roland-Garros teams asked her to reconsider her position and tried unsuccessfully to speak with her to check on her well-being, understand the specifics of her issue, and what might be done to address it on site,” the statement continued.”She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them, and that rules should equally apply to all players.
Repeat violations could include “default from the tournament” as well as “more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions.”
In the statement, the board of Grand Slam tennis tournaments also called speaking with the media a “core element of the Grand Slam regulations.”
“We want to underline that rules are in place to ensure all players are treated exactly the same, no matter their stature, beliefs, or achievement,” they wrote. “As a sport, there is nothing more important than ensuring no player has an unfair advantage over another, which unfortunately is the case in this situation if one player refuses to dedicate time to participate in media commitments while the others all honor their commitments.”
When Osaka announced her decision earlier this week, she wrote that she’s “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,” she wrote, noting that the decision was “nothing personal” toward the tournament or any of the journalists.
“If the organizations think that they can just keep saying, ‘do press or you’re gonna be fined,’ and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are the centerpiece of their cooperation then I just gotta laugh,” she concluded. “Anyways, I hope the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity.”
Alongside her statement, Osaka also shared a clip from an interview with a then-14-year-old Venus Williams filmed after a reporter questioned her confidence in saying “I know I can beat” an upcoming opponent.
Before Williams could defend herself in the clip, her father Richard Williams stepped in, telling the reporter, “You’re dealing with a little Black kid. Let her be a kid! She answered that with a lot of confidence, [so] leave that alone.”
In 2016, Venus Willaims was fined $5,000 by the Australian Open for failing to show up for press conferences after she lost in the first round. She and her sister Serena Williams were also each fined $4,000 in 2010 after skipping press at Wimbledon after a doubles match.
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