Sports | May 27, 2021 4:08 pm

Naomi Osaka Will Skip All Her French Open Press Conferences, Citing Mental Health

Osaka is prepared to accept any fines she receives for not making herself available to reporters

Naomi Osaka in preparation for the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament.
Naomi Osaka in preparation for the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament.
Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty

To help preserve her mental health, Naomi Osaka won’t be speaking to the media during the upcoming French Open.

The tennis star, who made $37.4 million in endorsements and tournament prizes between May 2019 and May 2020 (the most a female athlete has ever earned in a single year) according to Forbes, made the announcement via her Instagram account.

“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” Osaka wrote. “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. I’ve watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well. I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”

Since tennis players are required to attend post-match news conferences at major tournaments if members of the media ask them to, Osaka can be fined for not addressing the press. She is expecting that to happen and wrote that she hopes the money she is fined goes toward a mental health charity.

“Ultimately Osaka is free to do what she likes,” according to The Guardian. “But it is a shame. While some players understandably protect themselves by offering as little as possible, she is one of the more forthcoming and insightful speakers and her rapport with the media is better than most.”

Already a four-time Grand Slam singles champion at the age 0f 23, Osaka heads into the clay-court tournament ranked No. 2 in the world. Osaka typically struggles on clay and it is very possible she is upset in an early round of the tournament, having never advanced past the third round.

The French Open is scheduled to begin Sunday in Paris.