Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka briefly exited a press conference in tears on Monday night ahead of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
Osaka withdrew from the French Open in May after she sparked discussion by not appearing at media availabilities during the tournament. Osaka explained that the meetings with the media exacerbated her anxiety, which she detailed in a post on social media.
"I think 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," Osaka wrote on Twitter. "I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer."
Osaka was asked Monday about her relationship with the media.
"You are not crazy about dealing with us, especially in this format," Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty asked Osaka. "Yet you have a lot of outside interests that are served by having a media platform. I guess my question is, how do you balance the two?"
Osaka asked for clarification on Daugherty's question before noting "I can't really help that there's are some things that I tweet or some things that I say that kind of create a lot of news articles or things like that."
"I'm not really sure how to balance the two, I am figuring out at the same time as you are."
Osaka was then asked about her thoughts on the recent earthquake in Haiti, the birthplace of her father. Before answering, Osaka began to cry, and she left the podium before returning minutes later.
Osaka's agent, Stuart Duguid, criticized Daugherty's question in a statement provided to The New York Times.
"The bully at the Cincinnati Enquirer is the epitome of why player/media relations are so fraught right now," Duguid said. "Everyone on that Zoom will agree that his tone was all wrong and his sole purpose was to intimidate. Really appalling behavior."
The Western & Southern Open will mark Osaka's second event since the French Open after she lost to Marketa Vondrousova in the third round of the Tokyo Olympics. Osaka said Saturday she will donate her prize money from the Western & Southern Open to Haiti relief efforts.
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