Naomi Osaka cites mental health in skipping French Open press room

Naomi Osaka cites mental health in skipping French Open press room
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Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka says that in an effort to protect her mental health, she won't be speaking to the media at this year's French Open, risking substantial fines.

Osaka, the current world No. 2, said on her Instagram Wednesday that seeing other players have mental breakdowns in the press room after losses led to her decision, adding she doesn’t believe in "kicking a person while they are down."

"I’ve 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," she said in her post.

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“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’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me."

Osaka, one of 2020's Associated Press athletes of the year, added that her decision is “nothing personal” to Roland-Garros and the media who covered her tennis career, but added that if those organizations keep on telling players to talk to the press while ignoring their mental health, “then I just gotta laugh.” 

 

NBC News reports that players can be fined up to $20,000 for skipping post-match briefings at Grand Slam tournaments.

Osaka said in her post that she hopes any such penalties will go to a mental health charity.

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American player Venus Williams cheered Osaka on, NBC reported, writing, "Girl, do you. Your life is yours to live!" Both Venus and Serena Williams have reportedly been fined in the past for missing press conferences at tournaments.

Osaka, who has won four Grand Slams and lives and trains in the U.S., has been vocal on social justice and police reform in America. 

During last year's U.S. Open, which she won, she wore face masks with the names of slain Black Americans who were victims of police violence and injustice.