Naomi Osaka Quits French Open Following Her Decision to Boycott Media Interviews
Jun 01 2021
Japan's Naomi Osaka stunned the French Open on Monday when she announced she was withdrawing from the tournament in the wake of her decision to boycott post-match media duties, explaining she had been suffering from depression for nearly three years.
Osaka started her French Open campaign with a 6-4 7-6 (4) win over Romanian Patricia Maria Tig and then snubbed the post-match news conference, although the four-time Grand Slam champion did hold a court-side interview immediately after the contest.
"The mental health of players competing in our tournaments and on the Tours is of the utmost importance to the Grand Slams", the French Open organizers announced.
The Grand Slams added that following Osaka's announcement on Wednesday; Roland Garros teams asked the 23-year-old to reconsider her position and were unsuccessful in their attempts to check on her wellbeing. "The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland Garros is unfortunate", French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton said Monday.
"I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris", Osaka wrote in a statement released via her Twitter account Monday.
Grand Slam rules state players can be fined up to $20,000 (£14,160) for failing to meet their media obligations, with the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) saying the players "have a responsibility to their sport and their fans" to speak to the media during competitions.
"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. Change makes people uncomfortable". She answered three questions from the on-court interviewer, Fabrice Santoro, after the match and a few more queries on her way off the court from Wowow, the Japanese broadcaster with whom she is under contract.
She also said that she has "suffered long bouts of depression" since the 2018 U.S. Open, which she won by beating Serena Williams in a final filled with controversy.
She was only able to play one more clay event in Rome ahead of Paris.
And that was that from a player who has now strung together 15 successive Grand Slam match wins.
"There is nothing more important than ensuring no player has an unfair advantage over another, which unfortunately is the case in this situation if one player refuses to dedicate time to participate in media commitments while the others all honour their commitments".
"I was always trying to follow the rules and be fair not only on the court but off the court as well".
"The press is part of the job", she said.
Osaka's defiant stand overshadowed the opening day of the 2021 French Open which saw two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem crash at the first hurdle.