Naomi Osaka hit with massive fine after boycotting media at French Open

Carla Harmon
June 1, 2021

"Naomi Osaka today chose not to honour her contractual media obligations".

Osaka says the current post-match press conference set-up is "archaic" and her stance is part of her mission to change the system.

As well as the massive fine, Osaka's also been threatened with default and faces being kicked out of the competition if she continues with the boycott.

Osaka said she had suffered bouts of depression since winning her first slam title at the US Open in 2018 and that talking to the media triggered anxiety.

"We want to underline that rules are in place to ensure all players are treated exactly the same, no matter their stature, beliefs or achievement", the statement said.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the four-time Grand Slam victor said that she did not intend to be a distraction from the tournament, and believes it's in her best interests - as well as those of the other players - for her to step back. The Japanese world #2 had taken issue with the fines levied on players for failing to complete their media duties, even when she claimed it had a negative impact on their mental health, was not well-received by the sport's authorities.

Osaka shocked the tennis world last week when she announced she wouldn't be doing any media at Roland Garros.

"I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly", Osaka wrote.

"We individually and collectively have significant resources dedicated to player well-being", the statement said.

No leading player has yet expressed publicly a desire to follow Osaka's lead by skipping news conferences.

There is concern among tennis leaders that Osaka could set a precedent at a time when social media has given stars a broad platform to reach the public directly.

The four-time major victor posted a statement on Twitter saying she was pulling out so that "everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris", adding that she would "take some time away from the court". "The facilitation of media to a broad array of channels, both traditional and digital, is a major contributor to the development and growth of our sport and the fan base of individual players".

The Ukrainian hit a solid 16 winners and made 24 unforced errors, and won an impressive 74% of points on her first serve - which she made 53% of the time. Following the win, she participated in an on-court interview and called her game on clay a "work in progress".

But she declined all other television requests and skipped the news conference.

"It's not something that's ever phased me too much". As the highest-paid female athlete, she can afford the $15,000 fine and other fines that might come her way.

Rafael Nadal, who will attempt to win a remarkable 14th French Open title, said he respects Osaka's decision, but highlighted the role the media plays. By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

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