DeKalb, IL — Updated 06/01/2021
Tennis champion Naomi Osaka, who recently announced that she will not speak with the media during this year’s French Open because of the toll news conferences take on players' mental health, withdrew from the competition Monday.
The four-time Grand Slam winner was fined $15,000 Sunday for skipping the first interview and pulled out the French Open.
In an Instagram post, Osaka said, “I think the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my own well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris. I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” Osaka’s statement on IG read in part. “I’m gonna take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans.”
Osaka said athletes are asked questions that've been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into their minds, and she won’t subject herself to people that doubt her.
She had watched many clips of players breaking down in the press room after losing matches and that subjecting athletes to questions from journalists in those situations amounts to “kicking a person while they are down.”
Players can be fined up to $20,000 for skipping post-match briefings at Grand Slams unless they are injured and physically unable to appear. Still, it's not uncommon for players to skip them after particularly hard losses.