Osaka Says No To News Conferences In Paris

Naomi Osaka

PARIS/WASHINGTON, May 27, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

On Wednesday evening, World No. 2 Naomi Osaka, the highest-earning female athlete in the world, announced on her social media platforms that she is not going to speak to the media during the upcoming French Open, which begins Sunday in Paris.

Osaka wrote that she hopes that any fines she incurs “will go toward a mental health charity.”

Tennis players are required to attend post-match news conferences at Grand Slam tournaments if requested by the media. Typically, a player of Osaka’s stature is usually requested and made available, win or lose.

“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 wrote. “We’re often sat there and asked questions 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 added: “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.”

Immediately, Osaka’s comments drew attention among media. Among the more thoughtful responses, Canadian tennis journalist Mike McIntyre, co-host of “Match Point Canada,” the official podcast of Tennis Canada, wrote on Twitter:

“I’m sure she put in quite a bit of time before writing it. I don’t agree with everything said, but I certainly don’t disagree with it either. Regardless, this is how Naomi feels and everyone should be able to accept that fact. I applaud her for addressing the topic of mental health and sharing how this part of her job affects her and other players as well no doubt. It should serve as a wake-up call to all members of the media to be more thoughtful with the questions they ask and how they choose to phrase them.

“There should be more accountability in the press room and that falls on the ATP, WTA, individual tournaments and fellow media members to address. It’s unfortunate that the poor judgment of a few have impacted our collective enjoyment and enrichment of one of the more thoughtful professional tennis player’s opinions and observations for this upcoming French Open. …

“Imagine if Naomi had not done press at last year’s US Open for example and we hadn’t collective been there to hear her wisdom and passion towards the Black Lives Matter movement. Naomi’s words have the kind of power and impact that we need to be hearing and that will be greatly missed over the next two weeks. I hope we see her back in press again soon and that when we do that journalists will do better to make her feel safer and welcomethere so that she continues to use her incredibly powerful voice to the benefit of all.”

Jamie Murray miffed at FFT

Great Britain’s Jamie Murray, who will compete in the French Open starting next week, lashed out at the French Tennis Federation regarding prize money for doubles and also the hotel accommodations via Twitter on Tuesday. He did not seem to hold back his feelings:

Zvonareva, Schmiedlova set up showdown at French Open qualifying

Women’s No. 1 seed Vera Zvonareva of Russia set up a showdown with No. 18 seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia on Thursday. Only of them will qualify for the French Open, which begins Sunday in Paris.

Zvonareva defeated Mariam Bolkvadze of Georgia, 6-3, 6-1, while Schmiedlova beat Tamara Korpatsch of Germany, 6-0, 6-4.

Meanwhile, Belgrade finalist and Bogotá titlist Maria Camila Osorio Serrano remain in the chase for a main draw berth. Konjuh of Croatia took out No. 4 seed Timea Babos of Hungary, 6-3, 7-5 while Osorio Serrano of Colombia eliminated Richel Hogankamp of the Netherlands, 6-4, 6-0, winning the final eight games of the match. Among the other seeds winning were: No. 7 Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany and No. 9 Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy.

Alcaraz, Brooksby still in the chase for French Open main draw

Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz, ranked 94th, has lost just nine games through the first two rounds of French Open qualifying. On Wednesday, he defeated Andrea Pellegrino of Italy, 6-1, 6-2 to reach the final round of qualifying in Paris. It’s a pretty good display after losing in the first round of qualifying last year. In the final round of qualifying, Alcaraz will face Alejandro Tabilo of Chile, who eliminated Sumit Nagal of India, 6-3, 6-3.

Twenty-year-old #NextGenATP rising star Jenson Brooksby of the United States reached the final round of qualifying with a 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4 win over Marc-Andrea Huesler of Switzerland. Next, Brooksby will play World No. 329 Evan Furness of France, who defeated Denis Kudla of the United States, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4.

There were a trio of lengthy matches, none longer than the three-hour and 39-minute showdown that saw No. 12 seed Hugo Dellien of Bolivia getting past Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (4), 6-4. Dellien is attempting to compete in the French Open main draw for the third straight year. Also, Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina defeated Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of the United States, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (5), and No. 16 seed Juan Pablo Varillas of Peru beat Sebastian Ofner of Austria, 6-7 (10), 7-5, 6-3.