French Open 2021: On Monday, dealing a major blow to Roland Garros’ reputation, four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka withdrew despite winning her 1st round match. It came amid a tussle with the French Open tournament organisers for deciding to boycott the mandatory press conferences post her matches, citing her mental health condition. However, after her withdrawal, the Japanese tennis star has found support in two legends of the game in Serena Williams and Martina Navratilova.
Naomi Osaka’ media boycott wasn’t taken lightly by the French Open 2021 organisers with the tournament committee slapping her with a $15,000 fine for missing the press conference after her 1st round win. Other tennis stars also slammed her decision while Roland Garros mocked her decision in a now-deleted Twitter post.
“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” Naomi Osaka said in a statement on Twitter.
Naomi Osaka’s full statement on Twitter:
French Open 2021: Osaka finds support in Serena Williams
While many might have been against her decision to boycott media, US tennis legend Serena Williams offered her support. After her win in the 1st round match, Serena said she wished she could give her a hug.
“The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi. I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like. Like I said, I’ve been in those positions. We have different personalities, and people are different. Not everyone is the same. I’m thick (skinned). Other people are thin. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently,” Serena said.
“You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to, in the best way she thinks she can, and that`s the only thing I can say. I think she`s doing the best that she can. You have to be able to make an effort and say, I need help with A, B, C, and D, and talk to someone,” she said.
Another tennis legend, Billie Jean King said she was torn. “I fully admire and respect what Naomi is doing with her platform, so I am a little torn as I try to learn from both sides of the situation,” King, a co-founder of the WTA, said in a statement. Martina Navratilova, another tennis legend, offered her support.
I am so sad about Naomi Osaka.I truly hope she will be ok. As athletes we are taught to take care of our body, and perhaps the mental & emotional aspect gets short shrift. This is about more than doing or not doing a press conference. Good luck Naomi- we are all pulling for you!
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) May 31, 2021
My thoughts on Naomi Osaka’s decision not to speak with the press at Roland-Garros. pic.twitter.com/BzvHDU3DQY
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) May 30, 2021
French Open 2021: French Tennis Federation says ‘sorry’
After mocking Naomi Osaka for skipping the media session, French Tennis Federation President Gilles Moretton said he was “sorry and sad” for her. “First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka. The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland-Garros is unfortunate. We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery, and we look forward to having Naomi at our Tournament next year,” he said.
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Naomi Osaka on Sunday chose not to honour her contractual media obligations. The Roland-Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 fine, in keeping with article III H. of the Code of Conduct.
French Open advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences. As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament (Code of Conduct article III T.) and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions (Code of Conduct article IV A.3.).
As per tournament norms – it is mandatory for each player to do a press conference post their matches.
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