Aug 16, 2021 - Sports

Naomi Osaka leaves first news conference since French Open in tears

 Japan's Naomi Osaka competes against Czech Republic's Marketa Vondrousova during their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women's singles third round tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on July 27

Naomi Osaka at the Olympics in July. Photo: Tiziana Fani/AFP via Getty Images

Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka broke down in tears and had to briefly step away on Monday during her first news conference since withdrawing from the French Open.

Driving the news: Cincinnati Enquirer journalist Paul Daugherty referenced the world No. 2's withdrawal from May's French Open on Monday following her decision to not attend press conferences at the tournament to protect her mental health.

  • "You're not crazy about dealing with us, especially in this format, yet you have a lot of outside interests that are served by having a media platform," Daugherty said.
  • "I guess my question is, how do you balance the two and also do you have anything you'd like to share with us about what you did say to Simone Biles?" he added, in reference to the gymnastics great's withdrawal from several Tokyo Olympic Games events to prioritize her mental health.

What she's saying: "When you say I'm not crazy about dealing with you guys, what does that refer to?" the 23-year-old Japanese four-time major champion said.

  • "I feel this is something I can't really speak for everybody, I can only speak for myself. But ever since I was younger, I’ve had a lot of media interest on me, and I think it’s because of my background as well as how I play."
  • Osaka noted that she's not really sure how to balance it all, adding, "I'm figuring it out at the same time as you are, I would say."
  • She then broke down and briefly left the news conference to compose herself before returning and answering more questions in English and Japanese.

The big picture: The player was fined $15,000 at the French Open for not attending a mandatory press conference.

  • Leaders of the four Grand Slam tournaments pledged to address players' concerns about mental health and the incident following an outcry over Osaka's fine.
  • Osaka's experience sparked a wider conversation about mental health in sport.

Go deeper: Mental health and sports comes into sharp focus

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