Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper Shop Hello! Create with us

Osaka threatened with French Open disqualification over boycotting media for her mental health

Published May 31, 2021 11:11 am

Japanese superstar Naomi Osaka was on Sunday threatened with disqualification from the French Open if she persists with her controversial media boycott, officials said.

"We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations, she would be exposing herself to possible further code of conduct infringement consequences," said a statement from the four Grand Slam tournaments after the world number two was fined $15,000 (P715,702).

"Repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament and the trigger of a major offense investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions."

Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam title winner and sport's highest-earning female athlete, was sanctioned for refusing to hold a press conference after her opening 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) victory over Romanian world number 63 Patricia Maria Tig.

The 23-year-old had said on the eve of the tournament that she would not carry out any media obligations, claiming news conferences are detrimental to her mental health.

She likened traditional post-match inquests to "kicking people when they're down".

French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton had described Osaka's vow of silence as "a phenomenal error".

The four Grand Slam events -- Wimbledon, the French, Australian and US Opens -- said they had written to Osaka "to check on her well-being and offer support".

"She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them and that rules should equally apply to all players.

"Naomi Osaka today chose not to honour her contractual media obligations. The Roland Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 fine."

Later on Sunday Osaka's position became more entrenched when she tweeted in response to her fine: "Anger is a lack of understanding. Change makes people uncomfortable."

After her match, Osaka agreed only to a cursory on-court TV interview.

"For me, playing on clay is a work in progress," said the reigning US and Australian Open champion on a sun-kissed Court Philippe Chatrier.

"Hopefully the more I play, the better I will become."

And that was that from a player who has now strung together 15 successive Grand Slam match wins.

'It's not good'
The Grand Slam Board said Osaka's refusal to take part in media duties put opponents at a disadvantage.

"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 Osaka was to be disqualified, it would be as sensational as Novak Djokovic's default at last year's US Open where the world number one was booted out for hitting a line judge with a ball.

"I was always trying to follow the rules and be fair not only on the court but off the court as well. Now it's up to them to decide what's going to be," said former two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova after her opening win.

Osaka's compatriot Kei Nishikori added: "It's not good but I understand her situation. So it's good and bad." (AFP)