During this memorial weekend, tennis champ Naomi Osaka made the decision to remove herself from the French Open. Osaka, currently the 2nd ranked in the sport, was previously fighting the higher powers of the tennis world because she said that she didn’t want to talk to reporters at a post match press conference.
Osaka, who admitted to suffering from depression since 2018, said that she wouldn’t talk to the press during the French Open because she felt like oftentimes an athlete who may have lost is asked questions that equate to “kicking a person while they are down”. Her main reasoning for refusing interviews is due to her stance on players mental health and how it isn’t taken into account during interviews.
“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 said when addressing why she will not speak at the French Open. Due to this claim, and following through with it, she was fined $15,000.
Shortly after she decided not to talk to the press and got fined, she made the ultimate decision to drop out of the French Open, and step away from tennis to work on her mental health. She released a statement on her social media addressing her actions over the weekend.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
She took the time to apologize to the people whose feelings she may have hurt, specifically the press, expressing that she wasn’t referring to all of the press, just some of the writers and journalists that would ask questions that seemed insensitive to players.
I don’t think she is wrong to stand up for herself and do what is best for her mental health by dropping out of the French Open. I also agree that reporters and writers should be more sensitive in the questions that they ask, realizing that athletes have feelings as well. However, I do disagree with her position as to not talk to the media. I feel as though as a professional athlete, part of the job is talking to the press, and answering questions. The media relies on players to answer their questions, because that is their job and how they make money for their families, and they need something to report on.
Nevertheless, I believe we should applaud Osaka for openly talking about her mental health issues, and her decision to take a break from the sport. We wish her the best, and hope to see her on the courts again soon.
By Devin Foster, Junior, Bradley University
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