French Open Officials Threaten To Kick Naomi Osaka Out Of The Tournament If She Continues To Avoid Talking To The Media
In case you aren't caught up to speed with what's going with Naomi Osaka and the French Open, allow me to get you there. A few days prior to the start of the French Open, the women's world number 2 announced that she would not be doing any press during the tournament for the sake of her mental health. She gave her full explanation below.
Several players saw that statement and reacted accordingly with the biggest being the King of Roland Garros himself, Rafa Nadal.
Alexander Zverev also chimed in with a pretty well rounded answer at the 1:15 mark of this video.
Well, yesterday the tournament began and Naomi Osaka won her opening round match in straight sets. After the match she stayed true to her word and refused to do a post-match media session. She was promptly fined $15,000 by the tournament and could very well be facing harsher consequences if she continues to skip out on press. The grand slam organizers released a statement, threatening a possible suspension.
"A core element of the Grand Slam regulations is the responsibility of the players to engage with the media, whatever the result of their match, a responsibility which players take for the benefit of the sport, the fans and for themselves. We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences. As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions, including default from the tournament and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions."
So what we could be looking at here is the French Open tournament officials defaulting Osaka (DQing her). Get the fuck outta here. You wanna keep fining her, then keep fining her she doesn't care about the money. You wanna take this a step further and kick her out of the tournament? Piss off. I would not go down that path, but the French are crazy bastards so who knows.
As for Osaka and her reasoning here…. Listen, I definitely hear what she's saying. Mental health with professional athletes is a HUGE deal and something we rarely give a second of thought about when we're watching them on TV. The post match interviews with the press can be pointless and draining at times.
"How was the match?"
"What did you do wrong?"
"What were you thinking here when you lost the point?"
"How happy are you to win?"
It's those robotic, boring questions that make an athlete prefer doing interviews in podcast form where you can just have a conversation and be yourself. That being said, it's part of a professional athletes job to talk to the media. How you talk to them and what you say to them is up to you, but you gotta do it. I'm all for the betterment of mental health and looking out for yourself first before anything and anyone else, but like Nadal said, it's those media interactions that help grow the sport and increase popularity. The people in the media have a job to cover the sport and it's in those press conferences where they get material for their stories. It's also a way for Osaka's fans to see and listen to her speak when they normally don't get that chance. To my knowledge I've never seen a reporter disrespect or betray Osaka in an "I gotcha" type of way. The respect for her across the sport is enormous, which makes all of this a bit confusing.
So what should Osaka do? Honestly just pull a Marshawn Lynch/Coach Pop. If you really don't wanna answer the questions, just say you're there so you don't get fined and move on. There are no rules for how you need to act up there in front of the microphone. Look at what a guy like Nick Kyrgios does. You'll be lucky to get anything out of him in terms of actually talking about the match and his thoughts. Sometimes if you ask the right question he'll give you the best answer possible, but most of the time he just doesn't give a shit. Just do what he does.
Osaka's sister took to Reddit to throw this long post up and created even more of a headache. It was eventually taken down after I assume Naomi's team got a hold of it and lost their minds. Definitely NOT what she needed. The TLDR of the post implies that Naomi doesn't want to answer questions about her poor clay court record and put doubt her head.
All of this is a mess. The fines, the threat of a default, the standoff with the French Open officials, that reddit post. None of it can be good for Osaka's mental health as she tries to win at a place she's has little success at in her career. My only suggestion would just pull a Marshawn. Biggest way to give a virtual middle finger to the rules in place.