Tuesday, June 01, 2021

MUCH MORE Impressed With Naomi Osaka Than I Am With Myself...,

guardian |  Naomi Osaka has surprised the tennis world by declaring days before the start of the French Open that she will not conduct her mandatory media assignments during the tournament. Osaka, the world No 2, cited the effects of reporters’ questions in press conferences on her mental health.

“I’m writing this to say I’m not going to do any press during Roland Garros,” said Osaka in a statement posted to her social media accounts. “I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one. We are 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.”

Osaka’s announcement has forced the French Tennis Federation (FFT) to conduct discussions regarding how to handle her intended rule breach. The four-time grand slam champion further explained her reason for foregoing press conferences and she acknowledged the “considerable fine” she may receive after each match.

“Me not doing press is nothing personal to the tournament and a couple journalists have interviewed me since I was young so I have a friendly relationship with most of them,” she wrote. “However, if the organisations 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.”

Gilles Moretton, the president of the FFT responded firmly to Osaka’s statement on Thursday by saying that she will be fined if she does not attend her mandatory press conferences.

“It’s a deep regret, for you journalists, for her [Osaka] personally and for tennis in general,” he said, according to l’Equipe. “I think this is a phenomenal mistake. It shows to what extent today there is strong governance in tennis. What is happening there is, in my opinion, not acceptable. There are rules, laws. We will stick to the laws and rules for penalties and fines.”

Moretton continued: “It is very detrimental to sport, to tennis, to her probably. She hits the game, she hurts tennis. This is a real problem.”

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