UPDATED 6/3/21, 5:35 p.m. ET: In response to Naomi Osaka’s fine, Calm—a mindfulness app that promotes meditation and sleep—has offered to cover fines for “players opting out of 2021 Grand Slam media appearances for mental health reasons.”
UPDATED 5/31, 2:15 p.m. ET: After being hit with a $15,000 fine and a threat of expulsion for not doing press at the French Open, Naomi Osaka has announced her decision to withdraw from the tournament and “take some time away from the court.”
“Hey everyone, this isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago,” Osaka wrote, referring to when she announced her plans to not engage with the press due to mental health concerns. “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.”
The 23-year-old tennis superstar went on to explain she “never wanted to be a distraction,” her timing “was not ideal,” and her message “could have been clearer.” Naomi continued, “I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly. The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that. Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety.” She specifically said she’s “not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media. I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can.”
Osaka stressed that many members of the press have been kind to her and apologized to “all the cool journalists” she might have offended. “So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences,” she said. “I announced it preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that. I wrote privately to the tournament apologizing and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the Slams are intense.”
Naomi said she will “take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans. Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, love you guys I’ll see you when I see you.”
Osaka’s decision was supported by several high-profile accounts on Twitter, including Steph Curry and Coco Gauff:
See original story below.
Naomi Osaka has been fined $15,000 for not attending a French Open press conference on Sunday.
On Wednesday, Osaka announced prior to the 2021 French Open that she would not be engaging with the press due to mental health concerns, and cited how the media has often mishandled questions in their press conferences.
“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athlete’s mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” Osaka said in her post to social media. “If the organizations think that they can just keep saying ‘do press or you’re going to be fined and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are the centerpiece of their [corporation] then I just gotta laugh.”
Also in her statement, Osaka suggested that the money she’s fined should go to an organization that’s dedicated to mental health.
The French Open fined Osaka after she missed her post-match press conference following her Round 1 win against Patricia Maria Tig. On Sunday afternoon Osaka tweeted, “anger is a lack of understanding. change makes people uncomfortable.”
The organization also threatened the 23-year-old tennis player with additional sanctions and even possible expulsion. “We have 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,” its statement read. “As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament...and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions.”
“We individually and collectively have significant resources dedicated to player well-being,” the statement also said. “In order to continue to improve, however, we need engagement from the players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experiences.”