Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka announced Wednesday she would not be participating in any media availability sessions at this year's French Open, which began on Monday. The 23-year-old said in a statement released on her Instagram account that these sessions had a detrimental impact on athletes' mental health.
“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes [sic] 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 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.”
Osaka has won the last two Grand Slam tournaments, defeating Victoria Azarenka in the 2020 U.S. Open final and beating Jennifer Brady in this year's Australian Open final. She's currently ranked No. 2 in the WTA rankings behind Ashleigh Barty.
“I’ve watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well," Osaka wrote. "I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”
Osaka is looking to win her first career French Open this year. She has advanced to the third round three times, most recently in 2019. Osaka acknowledged she's likely to be fined for skipping media sessions, but offered a suggestion for where her fine money should be sent.
“If the organizations think that they can just keep saying, ‘Do press or you’re gonna be fined,’ and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are the centerpiece of their cooperation then I just gotta laugh," Osaka wrote. "Anyways, I hope the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity.”
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