Naomi Osaka reveals she will BOYCOTT media duties at French Open as world No 2 cites mental health concerns… with Japanese star saying she has ‘watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room’
- Naomi Osaka will not participate in any press duties during the French Open
- World No 2 cited mental health concerns over taking part in press conferences
- Osaka says she ‘doesn’t understand… kicking a person while they are down’
- Osaka is targeting Grand Slam No 5 as the French Open starts this Sunday
Naomi Osaka will not participate in any press duties at the French Open as the Japanese star said talking to the media can affect athletes’ mental health.
The world No 2, who is a four-time major champion and most recently won the 2021 Australian Open, posted a lengthy statement on Twitter explaining the pressures athletes come under when faced with questions from the press.
As a result the 23-year-old, who has never gone further than the third round at Roland Garros, insists she will boycott press at the tournament, insisting the ‘whole situation kicks a person while they are down’ and she ‘does not understand the reasoning behind it’.
Naomi Osaka has released a statement saying she will boycott the press at the French Open; the world No 2 cited mental health concerns as the reason behind her decision
Serena Williams left the press room early after her loss to Osaka in this year’s Australian Open
Players such as Andy Murray and Serena Williams have recently broken down at press conferences, with the American leaving the room after her semi-final loss against Osaka in Melbourne this year and Murray having to leave the press room two years ago, as he believed he would have to retire from tennis due to ongoing hip issues.
Osaka’s statement in full reads: ‘Hey everyone – hope you’re all doing well, I’m writing this to say I’m not going to do any press during Roland Garros.
‘I’ve 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.
‘I’ve watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well. I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it.
Andy Murray had to leave the room during his pre-event presser at the 2019 Australian Open
‘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.
‘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 centerpeice of their cooperation then I just gotta laugh.
‘Anyways, I hope the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity.’
The French Open gets under way in Paris on Sunday, with Poland’s Iga Swiatek the defending women’s singles champion from the delayed 2020 event, which took place last Autumn.
The Japanese 23-year-old insisted her decision was ‘nothing personal to the tournament’
Williams, 39, left her press conference in tears after losing the Australian Open semi-final to Osaka in Fenruary.
She had once again came up short in her 11th attempt to move level with Margaret Court’s record haul of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, and she hinted that it would be her last time playing the Australian Open.
She said: ‘If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone. So…’ She then became tearful and did not answer the next question, saying ‘I don’t know. I’m done’ before leaving the room.
Murray broke down in tears in Melbourne in January 2019 when revealing that he could be forced to retire due to a hip injury.
He left the room to compose himself before returning and said: ‘I’m not feeling good, I’ve been struggling for a long time.
‘I’ve been in a lot of pain for about 20 months now. I’ve pretty much done everything I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn’t helped loads.
‘The pain is too much really. I need to have an end point because I’m playing with no idea of when the pain will stop.’
The two-time Wimbledon champion later had an operation and returned to win a tournament that October, but his injury struggles continue and, now aged 34, he is no longer a contender to win the game’s biggest prizes.