Despite 35 Unforced Errors, Naomi Osaka Wins First Match Of French Open, Speaks To Crowd, Not Media

Naomi Osaka skipped her post-match news conference at the French Open on Sunday, as she promised she would do in a social media post.

Osaka, a four-time major champion and the No. 2-ranked women’s tennis player in the world, said her decision was motivated by her mental health … but she still spoke to the 5,000 fans permitted to be in attendance.

Osaka returned to Roland Garros after skipping the trip last year, turning in a mistake-filled 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over 63rd-ranked Patricia Maria Tig at Court Philippe Chatrier on Day 1 of the Grand Slam tournament, ESPN reports.

She was fined $15,000 for bypassing the news conference,.

The Grand Slam tournaments announced Osaka’s fine in a joint statement

“Naomi Osaka today chose not to honour her contractual media obligations. The Roland-Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 fine, in keeping with article III H. of the Code of Conduct. The mental health of players competing in our tournaments and on the Tours is of the utmost importance to the Grand Slams.”

The Roland-Garros 2021 teams said they asked her to reconsider her position and tried unsuccessfully to speak with her to check on her well-being, to understand the specifics of her issue so that they might address it. She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them and that rules should equally apply to all players.

Osaka did not do a pre-tournament session with the media either but still participated in the perfunctory exchange of pleasantries with on-court “interviewers” who ask questions so spectators can hear something from match winners, ESPN reports.

In her Wednesday social media post, she said she wasn’t going to participate in media press conferences due to mental health concerns. She said it creates self-doubt to have to answer questions after a loss.

“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” she wrote in a Wednesday Instagram post. “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.”

The Grand Slam tournaments also noted that if Osaka continues not to speak to the media she could be subjected to escalated punishment.

“As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament (Code of Conduct article III T.) and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions (Code of Conduct article IV A.3.),” the tournaments said in their statement.

Osaka controlled points with her attacking game on the clay, winning 31 of 35 points when her first serve landed in and accumulated 39 winners — more than twice as many as Tig’s 18.

Osaka next faces 102nd-ranked Ana Bogdan, who swept aside Italian qualifier Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-1, 6-3, per ESPN.

Written by Megan Turner

Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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