Naomi Osaka cites mental health for not doing press at 2021 French Open

Osaka said post-match interviews were “kicking a person while they're down and I don't understand the reasoning behind it."

Loading the player...

Naomi Osaka is placing her mental health first and will forgo doing press events during the 2021 French Open.

Read More: Naomi Osaka partners with Nike on new collection for 2021 French Open

Osaka is one of the most dominant superstars in the world whose moves create a ripple effect and her latest one may change the way athletes are treated off the tennis court.

On Wednesday, Osaka said she will not be taking part in any post-game interviews at the 2021 French Open being held at Stade Roland-Garros in Paris, France for the sake of her mental health.

2021 Miami Open - Day 10
Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts between sets against Maria Sakkari of Greece at the Miami Open on March 31, 2021. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Japan’s Osaka shared her intentions in a lengthy social media post.

“I am writing this to say that I am not going to do any press during Roland Garros,” the 23-year-old stated.

“I have often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” Osaka continued. “We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I am not going to subject myself to people who doubt me.”

The four-time Grand Slam winner shared that she’d witnessed other athletes “breaking down in a press room after a loss.” She’s been through similar pangs of hurt and chastised the process as “kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”

Osaka, ranked the number two female tennis player in the world, made clear that her decision was not a judgment on the reporters who attend the press briefings. However, she says she has to prioritize her own well-being even it means being penalized.

Her point echoes then Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch‘s famous “I’m just here so I don’t get fined” clip from Super Bowl media day in January 2015. He was threatened with a $500K fine if he did not participate in press conferences doing the event. He showed up, but answered every question with the same response.

Naomi Osaka thegrio.com
Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts against Maria Sakkari of Greece at the Miami Open on March 31, 2021. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

According to tennis tournament rules, players must be present for press conferences after each match and are subject to financial penalties if they don’t.

Osaka is willing to be fined and hopes any money is given to a mental health charity.

“However, if the organizations think that they can just keep saying, ‘Do press or you’re gonna be fined,’ and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are the centerpiece of their cooperation then I just gotta laugh.”

Read More: Naomi Osaka named 2021 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year

The qualifications for the French Open have already started. However, the women’s draw hasn’t been determined yet for the competition, which is scheduled to run until Sunday, June 13.

Read her post in full below.

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!

Loading the player...