Naomi Osaka got emotional during her first press conference since the French Open incident. On Monday (Aug. 16), when the tennis player sat down with reporters to discuss her participation in the Western & Southern Open, she was asked an “an aggressively toned” question about her past decision to stay away from media for the sake of her mental health.
“It was something I needed to do for myself,” she said, per The New York Times. “More than anything, I felt like I holed up in my house for a couple weeks, and I was a little bit embarrassed to go out because I didn’t know if people were looking at me in a different way than they usually did before.
“But I think the biggest eye-opener was going to the Olympics and having other athletes come up to me and say that they were really glad that I did what I did. So after all that, I’m proud of what I did, and I think that it was something that needed to be done.”
Moments later, Osaka reportedly shed tears and pulled down her hat. Though another reporter tried to continue the interrogation, a break was announced. Per Times writer Ben Rothenberg, she left the room for a few but returned to answer a few more questions.
Back in May, Osaka’s boycott of the media at the French Open resulted in a $15,000 fine and her subsequent decision to withdraw from that competition and a few others. In a letter about mental health, she clarified that her issue was with the format of press conferences, not the media itself.
“I have always enjoyed an amazing relationship with the media and have given numerous in-depth, one-on-one interviews,” she wrote. “... However, in my opinion... the press conference format itself is out of date and in great need of a refresh. I believe that we can make it better, more interesting and more enjoyable for each side. Less subject vs. object; more peer to peer.” She also suggested a “small number of ‘sick days’ per year” for athletes to use when they want to be excused from press duties.