Naomi Osaka said she is withdrawing from the French Open after organizers fined her $15,000 for not attending a press conference.
What happened: The 23-year-old tennis champion announced that she would not “do any press during Roland Garros,” citing the importance of mental health for athletes as the reason, ESPN Australia reported.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 26, 2021
- The U.S. Tennis Association, the French Tennis Federation, the All England Lawn Tennis Club and Tennis Australia released a joint statement on Sunday detailing the incident and the fine Osaka is facing, according to NBC News.
- “Naomi Osaka today chose not to honor her contractual media obligations,” the joint statement read, adding that the referee at the Roland-Garros stadium issued her a $15,000 fine.
- The organizations added that the mental health of the participating players is “of the utmost importance to the Grand Slams.”
- The rules were placed to ensure all players are treated equally, “no matter their stature, beliefs or achievement,” the statement said. “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.”
- If she continued to avoid media appearances, Osaka was “at risk of default from the tournament and suspension from other competitions for repeated violations.”
The reaction: Many people rallied behind Osaka on her Twitter post.
4 someone who now works in media & knows how important quotes & sound bites are, I was also a player, with feelings! This move from Naomi is really an amazing moment 4 the media to LISTEN to these players & understand how tough it is for many of them & to do better & get better!
— Rennae Stubbs OLY (@rennaestubbs) May 27, 2021
I am enjoying this “fine me, I don’t care” energy.
— roxane gay (@rgay) May 26, 2021
Sending you so much love and support.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) May 26, 2021
Setting an example for the whole world on how to set boundaries. 👑👑👑👑
— ashley fairbanks (@ziibiing) May 26, 2021
it’s this. we’re with you naomi pic.twitter.com/27oZ0g7ZKQ
— لينا • lena (@lenapalestina) May 26, 2021
The aftermath: On Monday, Osaka announced her withdrawal from the French Open saying, “I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” The Guardian reported.
- It was never her intention to be a distraction amid the tournament, she said, adding that the “timing was not ideal” and her message “could have been clearer.”
- Osaka revealed she suffered from “long bouts of depression” since the 2018 U.S. Open final, where she won against Serena Williams.
- In a statement, French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton described Osaka’s withdrawal from the tournament as “unfortunate.” He added, “We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery, and we look forward to having Naomi in our tournament next year,” Yahoo! Australia reported.
Moretton(2/2):”As all the Grand Slams, the WTA, the ATP, and the ITF, we remain very committed to all athletes’ well-being, and to continually improving every aspect of players’ experience in our tournament–including with the media, like we have always strived to do. Thank you.”
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 31, 2021
Featured Image via NBC Sports