PARIS — Naomi Osaka makes a triumphant return to the French Open. When she won the first round against Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday, But Osaka was not injured on the opening day of the match.
She was fined $15,000 by a French Open referee for refusing to appear at a post-match press conference and warning she risks tougher penalties. including default from the competition If she still does not meet her media obligations.
The surprisingly stern warning was sent in a statement signed by the leaders of the four Grand Slam tournaments: French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton, Tennis Association̵7;s new head Mike McNulty. of the United States; Jayne Hrdlicka, Head of Tennis Australia; and Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club, which runs Wimbledon.
The Grand Slam leader also stressed that repeated abuses by Osaka could lead to “Growing fines and suspension of future Grand Slams.”
Osaka, a four-time major singles champion, is one of the biggest stars in sports. are faced with a choice Before the French Open begins She announced that she would not do any “media” during the competition. He cited the need to maintain her “mental health” by avoiding repetitive and potentially negative questions from journalists.
But if the purpose is to limit distraction and find peace of mind. She now faces concerns that might grow bigger in Paris if she continues to refrain from press conferences.
Grand Slam leaders have expressed frustration at Osaka’s lack of involvement with tennis officials. They explained in their statement that the French Open management team “Tried unsuccessfully to talk to her to check her well-being. Understanding Her Specific Problems and what might happen must be completed within the work.”
The Grand Slam leaders said they had written to Osaka warning her of the obligations and consequences she faces for not following the rules. Leaders also stressed the importance of equal treatment.
“We want to emphasize that there are rules to ensure that all players are treated the same. “As a sport, nothing is more important than ensuring that no player has an unfair advantage. which is unfortunate in this case If one of the players refuses to devote their time to participating in the media obligation while others respect their promises.”
Top players such as Andre Agassi, Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic skipped the press conference after their defeat and were fined. But this is the first example of a top player who clearly shows up front that she had no intention of speaking to the press during a Grand Slam match.
Osaka, which is based in the United States and represents Japan. She is the highest paid female athlete in the world. Most of her income comes from sponsorships. She has elevated her profile not only by winning major titles. but with social justice support She wears a mask that honors the victims of black violence. including police violence After last year’s United States Open
in general She has a positive relationship with the news media. But in her announcement on social media ahead of the French Open, she said: “I always feel that people don’t care about the mental health of athletes. And this is true every time I see a press conference or attend an event.”
Osaka, where the decision of some members of her support team was astonishing. It did not say whether she was experiencing any specific mental health issues. But she made it clear in a social media post that she felt strongly about the stance. “If an organization thinks they can go on to say, ‘Make the news or you’ll be fined’ and continue to ignore the mental health of athletes at the heart of their partnership. I had to laugh.”
The Grand Slam leaders stressed the importance of players’ mental health on Sunday, saying they are “of utmost importance”.
“We have important resources for the well-being of both individual and collective players.” in order to continue to improve We need engagement from players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experience.”
No top players have yet publicly expressed a desire to follow Osaka’s lead by skipping the press conference. Celebrities such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Serena Williams regularly answered questions after each match.
There is concern among tennis leaders that Osaka can set a precedent at a time when social media has given the star a wide arena in direct public reach. But the Grand Slam leader reiterated that the news media still played an important role.
“A key element of Grand Slam rules is the player’s responsibility to engage with the media. no matter what their results are It is the responsibility players take for the benefit of the sport, their fans and for themselves,” their statement said. “These interactions enable both players and the media to share their views. and so that players can tell their stories. Facilitating media in a variety of channels both traditional and digital It is an important part of the development and growth of our sport and each player’s fan base.”
Osaka was immobile after her 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over Tig in Philippe Chatrier Main Court on Sunday. She answered three questions from Fabrice Santoro on-court interviewers after the match and a few more during the match. Leaving the field from Wowow, the Japanese broadcaster she was under contract.
But she declined all other television requests and skipped the press conference. As the highest paid female athlete She can pay a $15,000 fine and other fines. that might come to her The bigger question is whether she wants to take the risk of attending the French Open, she struggled on clay and never made it past the third round in Paris. But competition is still one of the cornerstones of the sport.
The next chance to escalate or ease tensions comes in the second round on Wednesday against Romania’s Ana Bogdan.