On Sunday, Billie Jean King
, a former tennis
great and activist, gently reminded press-bashing superstar Naomi Osaka
that players "have a responsibility to make ourselves available to the media."
Osaka, who has reached the second round of the French Open
, announced last week that she would not participate in press interviews at the Grand Slam event to protect her mental health
, and she skipped the press conference following her first-round victory, incurring a $15,000 fine and the threat of tournament suspension.
“I fully admire and respect what Naomi is doing with her platform, so I am a little torn as I try to learn from both sides of this situation,” King began a note posted on Twitter
, before mentioning the positive impact the press has had on tennis.
“I acknowledge that things are very different now with social media
and everyone having an immediate ability to speak their truth,” continued King, a major figure in gender
equality who founded the Women
’s Tennis Association and has won 39 Grand Slam titles. “The media still play an important role in telling our story. There is no doubt
that the media must respect certain boundaries.
My thoughts on Naomi Osaka's decision to avoid speaking with the press at Roland-Garros. pic.twitter.com/BzvHDU3DQY — Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) May 30, 2021
Some Twitter users sided with King, while others accused her of being insensitive, while others praised Osaka for taking a stand. Many suggested that the tennis star simply decline to answer questions she felt were inappropriate, while others said the media needed to be more accountable.
Mari Osaka, Osaka's sister, blamed the tennis champion's media silence in part on repeated questions about her lack of success on clay courts.