Osaka fined $15,000 after win, warned of French Open expulsion

Brenda Watkins
June 1, 2021

The 23-year-old victor of four Grand Slams announced on social media before the French Open that she would be skipping news conferences for the sake of her mental well-being, likening journalists' questions to "kicking a person while they're down".

"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.

The French Open and its clay surface have always been a hurdle for Osaka, who has never been alone in that dynamic.

She was fined $15,000 by the French Open tournament referee for declining to appear at a mandatory postmatch news conference and warned that she risked stronger penalties, including default from the tournament, if she continued not to fulfill her media obligations. "As all the Grand Slams, the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, we remain very committed to all athletes' well-being and to continually improving all aspects of players experience in our tournaments including with the media like we have always tried to do".

She said expecting players to answer questions after a defeat amounted to "kicking a person while they're down".

She had said last week on social media she would not speak to the media and kept that promise.

FFT President Gilles Moretton made a statement Monday on Osaka and said her withdrawal is "unfortunate" while also welcoming her back to the French Open next year.

"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".

Osaka, a four-time major champion and the No. 2 seed in this clay-court Grand Slam, announced Wednesday that she would not be participating in any news conferences during the tournament, citing her mental health as the motivation for the decision. So many people are picky on this term thinking you need to have depression or have some sort of disorder to be able to use the term mental health.

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"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.

Tennis fans have been showing support for Osaka and slamming the four Grand Slam tournaments' governing body for taking punitive measures against the player.

When asked about his Japanese compatriot Osaka, Nishikori said skipping interviews was not ideal, but he understood her situation.

German 26th seed Angelique Kerber, a three-time major victor, was the day's biggest loser in the women's draw, going down to 6-2, 6-4 Ukrainian qualifier Anhelina Kalinina.

After beating Serena Williams to claim her first major at the 2018 U.S. Open, Osaka was booed by the crowd during the presentation ceremony as her victory was overshadowed by the American's outburst following a row with the umpire. The Grand Slams are right to deliver that. She was the youngest woman to win the French Open since Monica Seles did it in 1992.

With Osaka's withdrawal, her second-round opponent, Ana Bogdan, advances to the third round.

"It's much, much different when you suddenly get a success".

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