In Support of Naomi OsakaPosted: May 31, 2021
Having the media report that Naomi Osaka did not do a press conference after her first win at the French Open and complain that they did not get their free interview is not exactly kosher. The Four Grand Slam Tournaments fined Osaka $15,000 for skipping the press conference after her first win and threatened to ban her from other Grand Slams if she did not participate in Press conferences because they say the press conferences are good for building the sport and required. The press conferences are good for the press and the tournaments to sell more advertising. It is not the responsibility of each athlete to build the sport. They do their job by playing a good game.
Osaka claimed that the press conferences are not good for her mental health, so rather than make the French Open a pissing match she cordially pulled out of the tournament to take care of her own mental health. Good for her. If she stayed in and kept skipping the press conferences that is all the tournament would be about, not tennis at all.
Tennis is a mental game. Why should players have to endure press conferences before the whole thing is over? And why should a winner have to endure them at all? Most players want the publicity, but if the press treats them badly why should a player be forced to face them? We watch tennis to see an athlete, not a spokesperson.
I think pulling the big bad bully card on the last day of Mental Health month was poor form for the Open organizers. If they want to promote tennis then don’t push your athletes around.
I don’t see golf making players have to face the press between each round of a big tournament. Now plenty will talk to the press, but it appears to be their choice. The press should have to cultivate interviews, not just be able to throw any old question at a player who in essence is trapped into being in front of them under duress.
Osaka is the highest paid female athlete in the world right now and number 2 in women’s tennis. Driving her out of the sport would be bad for tennis. Has tennis learned nothing from the women who started the Virginia Slims tournament to control their own situation? Players being treated badly makes them want to not play your tournaments at all and in today’s world it wouldn’t be hard for someone of Osaka’s caliber to pull together a few other women and create a new tournament with more modern and reasonable rules.
So you bully’s in the tennis world and you press who are whining you did not get your automatic conference which was handed to you on a golden platter, you don’t get to call all the shots. The athletes that actually makes the shots should have some say in who she talks to and when. Not having to face the press in the middle of a tournament, or ever, seems perfectly reasonable if that is what she needs to do.