tennis

Naomi Osaka Weighs In On French Open Withdrawal

September 03, 2021

- Grant Whittington

Naomi Osaka is the first Asian player to hold the number one ranking in the world of tennis. Not only is she a tennis player, but an entrepreneur and role model to many. Her thoughts on her withdrawal from the 2021 French Open in May have rippled through the media over the last few months. Naomi said that she felt like there were a lot of things she did wrong in that moment, but that she is also a very present person.

After being fined $15 000 for not fulfilling her obligation to interact with the media at Roland Garos, she shared that she wanted the fine money to go towards supporting a mental health charity, her mental health being the driving force behind her media and press conference aversion.

Withdrawal Sparks Discussion

Osaka’s decision to step back from the Roland Garos created a wave of mental health discussions throughout the tennis community and the rest of the sporting world. These discussions are focussed around whether or not press conferences, as well as media engagement, are having a negative effect on the players mental health or not.

In her recent interview with TIME magazine, Naomi expressed her feelings about the demands and structure of press conferences stating that they are out of date. She also mentioned that she didn’t know how big of a deal it would become. The four time Grand Slam Champion went on to say that she loves the press, but does not love press conferences. Naomi added that in her opinion the press conference format itself is in great need of a refresh.

What’s Next For Naomi?

Naomi was recently taken out of the Western and Southern Open by Jill Teichmann in early August. During the pre-game press conference she took a moment to gather herself after she had started crying. We can only speculate as to what could have been bothering her at the time. Knowing the emphasis she has put on her mental health and how it relates to her profession, one wonders what was on her mind at that moment and during the game. Osaka reflected that making the choice to go out and play is in itself an accomplishment and is feeling more thankful for her career in tennis.

Being the reigning champion of the U.S and Australian Open is a huge achievement, we wonder what’s next for Naomi. She will be playing The U.S Open at Flushing Meadows starting at the end of August to defend her title.

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