Naomi Osaka, Citing Respect For Her Mental Health, Takes A Stand Against Tournament Press
"I'm just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me," the 23-year-old wrote.
May 27, 2021 at 2:40 pm
Tennis player Naomi Osaka opted out of news conferences for the French Open, Roland Garros, citing preservation of her mental health.
“Hey everyone, hope you’re all doing well,'' Osaka began in her statement. “I am writing this to say I’m not going to do any press at Roland Garros.”
“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athlete’s mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” her statement continued. "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."
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 26, 2021
The tennis champion then went on to say some press conferences consist of nothing more than “kicking a person while they’re down,” especially after an athlete experiences a tough loss.
The 23-year-old, who is a four-time Grand Slam champion and currently the No. 2 tennis player in the world, faces up to $20,000 in fines for refusing to appear at press conferences. But she's completely fine with it.
"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 at the centerpiece of their [corporation], then I just gotta laugh," she said.
She said she hopes her considerable incoming penalty can go toward a mental health organization.
Despite the repercussions of a large fine, Osaka is not the only athlete to choose not to talk to the press.
“Instead of speaking to the media today, I am issuing this statement to ensure that my message is conveyed properly,” his statement read, according to CBS Sports.
“I am committed to show up to work everyday, ready to have fun, compete, perform, and win championships alongside my teammates and colleagues in the Nets organization. My goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself. Life hit differently this year and it requires us, it requires me, to move differently. So, this is the beginning of that change,” he wrote, referencing the COVID-19 pandemic and how the health crisis impacted every community.
As a result of refusing to fulfill his media responsibilities, Irving was fined $25,000.
"I pray we utilize the 'fine money' for the marginalized communities in need, especially seeing where our world is presently," Irving wrote in a follow-up statement. "[I am] here for Peace, Love, and Greatness. So stop distracting me and my team, and appreciate the Art. We move different over here… I do not talk to Pawns. My attention is worth more."
Last year, Osaka withdrew from playing in the French Open due to a hamstring injury.
The 2021 tournament at Roland Garros Stadium in Paris begins May 30 and will end on June 13.