has stated that she will not speak to the media
during this year's French Open
in order to protect her mental health
The Japanese tennis
superstar announced on Twitter
on Wednesday that she would not be doing any press appearances during the Roland-Garros tournament, which runs from May 30 to June 13 in Paris.
“I've often felt that people
have no regard for athletes' mental health, and this rings very true whenever I see or participate in a press conference,” she wrote, pointing out that athletes are frequently asked to answer repeated questions that cause self-doubt.
Professional tennis players are fined thousands of dollars if they do not attend mandatory post-match press conferences, during which reporters sometimes grill athletes on the reasons for their losses or mistakes.
“I'm just not going to subject myself to people who doubt me,” she said. “I've seen many clips of athletes breaking down in the press room after a loss, and I know you have as well, and I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they're down, and I don't understand the reasoning behind it.”
NaomiOsaka (@naomiosaka) on May 26, 2021: pic.twitter.com/EegFSKnoie
Osaka stated that her decision was not intended to be a criticism of the tournament, but she refused to comply with threats that she would be fined if she did not "do press."
“I hope the hefty fine I receive for this goes to a mental health charity
,” she said.
It's not the first time a tennis pro has declined to appear in front of the media.
Venus Williams was fined $5,000 in 2016 for failing to attend a press conference following her early exit from the Australian
Open, and she has previously paid fines
for failing to attend press conferences, according to the Guardian, including once in 2010 when she and her sister, Serena, were fined $4,000 each for failing to appear after a doubles match at Wimbledon.
Other players have paid to avoid press events, including Andre Agassi, Mats Wilander, Goran Ivanisevic, Victoria Azarenka, and Yevgeny Kafelnikov.