Rising tennis star Naomi Osaka is facing expulsion from the French Open for refusing to speak to the media.
Osaka defeated Patricia Maria Tig 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Court Philippe Chartier on Sunday (May 30). While she did participate in a brief on-court interview following her match, Grand Slam organizers are upset because Osaka declined to answer questions from reporters in a traditional post-match news conference.
They slammed her with a $15,000 fine and released a joint statement saying Osaka also faces “more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions.” The statement details the tennis organization’s failed attempts to have Osaka reconsider her stance on media. “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,” the statement said.
“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.”
Last week, the second-seeded Osaka released a statement on social media announcing she would not address the media during the French Open, due to the impact news conferences can have on the mental health of players. The 23-year-old champion feels that the expectation for players to answer questions from reporters after a loss is similar to “kicking a person while they’re down”.
“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” Osaka said in the statement. “We’ve 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.”
Osaka plans to donate the fines she will accrue to mental health charities. She faces Ana Bogdan Tuesday (June 1) in the second round of the French Open.