Osaka Fined 15K For Skipping Out On French Open Press
Naomi Osaka stuck to her guns on Sunday, skipping the news conference after her first-round win at the French Open at Roland Garros. And although the $15k she was fined by French Open organisers wouldn’t have made a dent in the tens of millions of dollars’ worth of endorsements she enjoys each year, the fine came with a stern word of warning: adapt, or else.
Osaka announced on Wednesday that she would not be addressing the press at this year’s French Open – citing the effects of repetitive questions from the media on her state of mental health as the reason behind her decision. Players are however required to do so during certain occasions.
While Osaka’s opening opponent, the 63rd-ranked Patricia Maria Tig, supported her in saying the world No. 2 had merely done what she considered best for herself and for her game, others seemed to follow a much more diplomatic approach. Both Rafael Nadal and Ash Barty have said though they fully respect Osaka’s right to take a stand, they do believe that addressing the press is part of “the job”.
Media A Non-Negotiable
The fine imposed on Osaka was determined by the tournament referee at Roland Garros and in line with international Grand Slam guidelines. It was announced in a joint statement by all four the sport’s majors: Tennis Australia’s Jayne Hrdlicka, All England Club’s Ian Hewitt, Mike McNulty of the U.S. Tennis Association, and Gilles Moretton of the French tennis federation.
The statement explained how a “core element” of Grand Slam regulations is a player’s responsibility to interact with the media, irrespective of the outcome of their match. This, continued the statement, is for the benefit of everyone, the player, the sport, and the fans.
Although the statement expresses understanding of the importance of a player looking after their state of mental health, it also goes on to say that the rules ensure all players are treated equally in the first place.
Osaka had reportedly been approached with a request to review her decision, but the request had been met with no engagement in return.
Tougher Sanctions Loom
The real challenge will be for Osaka and Grand Slam organisers to come to some sort of a resolve in terms of future obligations.
The recent statement by the powers that be made it perfectly clear that tougher sanctions than just a fine could be on the table should Osaka continue her refusal to meet with the press, including suspensions from future Grand Slam events.