May 31, 2021 - Sports

Naomi Osaka fined $15k for declining media interviews at French Open

Naomi Osaka
Osaka Naomi at Roland Garros in Paris, France on May 30. Photo: Aurelien Morissard/Xinhua via Getty Images

Naomi Osaka, the world's No. 2 tennis star and highest-paid female athlete, was fined $15,000 by Roland Garros for declining media interviews at the French Open.

The big picture: The 23-year-old "already gives very few individual interviews and has reached a level of celebrity that she can probably maintain through social media, her sponsors and coverage of her matches," the New York Times reports.

  • Osaka did not join Roland Garros' official media day last Friday, and her agent declined to comment to the Times when asked whether she would speak to broadcasters or give post-match interviews throughout the tournament.
  • She could be fined up to $20,000 for every Roland Garros news conference that she skips.

What she's saying: "I've often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one," Osaka said in a statement on Twitter.

  • "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."

Naomi's sister, Mari Osaka, wrote in a now-edited Reddit post that trouble competing on clay was a factor her sister's decision. "Tennis players don't get paid to do press conferences. They only get paid when they win matches."

  • "I don't know what she is going to do in the future when the tournament pushes back and threatens to default her but I fully support my sister's actions because she's just trying to do what's best for her."
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