Naomi Osaka Makes Shock Announcement

Jake Cooper | 04 Jun 2021

Naomi Osaka on tennis courtTennis fans and big-event organisers alike were recently stunned by Naomi Osaka’s insistence that she won’t be answering any questions from the press during this year’s French Open at Roland Garros.

Osaka early last week took to social media to announce her decision, saying the unusual step will be taken in order to protect her state of mental health. The four-time Grand Slam winner added that she’s well aware of the fines she’ll be accruing from French Open officials, and that she’ll gladly match these for donating the money to mental health charities.

Osaka said that while the decision wasn’t intended to be a personal onslaught on journalists or news broadcasters, she would no longer subject herself to the handful of predators exploiting players while they were already down.

Press Sowing Self-Doubt

The 23-year-old explained in a Twitter tweet to fans and followers that members of the press were oftentimes in the habit of asking the same questions over and over again – questions that ultimately lead to players doubting their own abilities to play and perform. She said she would no longer subject herself to this type of predatory and self-doubt-sowing behaviour.

She also added that she herself has viewed many a clip showing a player or athlete breaking down after a loss in a press room, and that she did not understand how this sort of predatory exploitation had even become acceptable in the first place.

She emphasised that the decision wasn’t meant to offend either the organisers of the French Open or the journalists she’d become friendly with ever since she first started out playing the sport as a young and upcoming player.

A Storm Is Likely Coming

While Osaka’s point of view is perfectly reasonable, it’s bound to create a shake-up in the world of professional tennis. Owing to her charismatic appeal, she’s emerged a showstopper, and is considered one of the most valuable players from a marketing point of view.

Players are required under contract to address the press after matches – failing which they have been known to incur massive monetary fines. They’re also often required to address the media before significant matches – with the accompanying endorsements oftentimes running into the millions in favour of players and news networks alike.

The Japanese player herself earned a whopping $AU70 million in traditional endorsements during 2020 alone. This saw her trump every other female player in 2020.