Citing mental health, Naomi Osaka says she won't speak to press at French Open

One of the biggest tennis stars in the world, Japanese Naomi Osaka, said Wednesday she won’t speak to the media this year French Open Due to the fee-based press conferences, the emotional well-being of the players is impaired.

“I have often felt that people do not consider athletes’ mental health and this is true whenever I watch or attend a press conference,” Osaka, ranked number two in the world, wrote in one Post that was shared on her Instagram and Instagram Twitter accounts when announcing her decision.

“We would often sit and ask questions that we have been asked multiple times or ask questions that made us doubt, and I just won’t submit to people who doubt me,” she added.

The tennis star said she had seen many clips of players collapsing in the press room after losing games and that in such situations it was equivalent to “kicking athletes while they are down”.

The decision has real implications as players can be fined up to $ 20,000 For skipping post-game briefings at Grand Slams unless you are injured and cannot physically show up. However, it is not uncommon for players to take the hit and still skip it after particularly heavy losses.

In her post, Osaka said she hoped the “substantial amount” she was fined for would go to a mental health charity.

It’s not clear if Osaka won’t be attending press conferences at any other tournament.

Osaka’s statement generated more than 7,000 comments on Instagram, including from her tennis colleagues.

American Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, said, “Girls, right? Your life is yours for life! “Williams and her sister, tennis legend Serena Williams, both have it was previously punished for missing press conferences at major tournaments.

Osaka, which is spoken softly, has so far had a largely friendly relationship with the press.

In her post, she said her decision was “nothing personal” against the tournament, adding that she was “on friendly terms” with most of the journalists covering the sport.

But she added, “If organizations think they can just keep saying, ‘Do the press or you will be punished’ and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes who are at the heart of their business, then I just have to laugh. “

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NBC News has approached the French Tennis Federation, which organizes the French Open, the Women’s Tennis Federation and the International Tennis Federation, for comments, as well as Osaka’s long list of sponsors, including Nike and Louis Vuitton.

The Japanese-Haitian player, who has taken the tennis world by storm since it broke out in 2018, has already won four Grand Slam titles at the age of 23. It was named earlier this month Sportswoman of the year from the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards.

She made more than $ 55 million in the past year, a record for a female athlete, according to sports business website Sportico.

Osaka has also used her vote to become an advocate for racial equality on and off the field. At last year’s US Open, she wore seven face masks, each with the name of a victim of racial violence.

The qualifiers for the French Open are underway. The main draw starts on Sunday.

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