Naomi Osaka has received support from several athletes but has been slammed by French Tennis Federation (FFT) President Gilles Moretton after saying she wouldn’t attend press conferences at this year’s French Open.
Having said the nature of the questions puts an undue burden on players’ mental health, four-times grand slam champion Osaka was supported by rival Iga Swiatek’s sports psychologist.
Retired Fomula One champion Nico Rosberg, former tennis player Zina Garrison and British world champion sprinter Dina Asher-Smith also gave support to world number two Osaka.
“Naomi Osaka has a point, but it is two sides to this coin,” Garrison tweeted.
“She will be able to pay for the fine most Athletes can’t. Love you are bring awareness to mental health in sports. Come together with all sides and work on a solution now.”
Rosberg told Reuters on Thursday: “I think it’s quite a ballsy step again from her. I can understand because when I was on my way to the championship… I switched everything off. No media, no news, no emails.”
But Moretton had no sympathy for Osaka.
“It’s a deep regret, for you journalists, for her (Naomi Osaka) personally and for tennis in general,” Moretton said.
“I think this is a phenomenal mistake. It shows to what extent today (the need) that there is strong governance in tennis.
“What is happening there is, in my opinion, not acceptable. We will stick to the laws and rules for penalties and fines.”
Brazilian Indy Car driver Tony Kanaan concurred with Moretton.
“I find this day relaxing instead of focusing on the race,” Kanaan said at the Indy 500 media day. “Some people hate the media.
“I think it’s silly. It’s not about you, the sport will survive. Somebody else will do those interviews.”
According to the grand slam rule book, players can be fined up to $US20,000 ($A25,833) for skipping a media conference but Osaka said she was ready to accept any sanction.
Osaka hoped the “considerable amount” that she expected to forfeit would go towards a mental health charity.
Sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz, who works with French Open winner Swiatek, said she appreciated Osaka’s concern about facing questions after a defeat.
“I absolutely understand the decision in terms of when a player loses a match, and tennis is such a specific sport because at the end of the tournament only one person does not lose,” she said.
“It’s tough emotionally to cope with it; it is one of the challenges that tennis brings. It’s sometimes overwhelming.”
“As a sponsor, we respect the feelings and will of the athletes,” Japanese instant noodle-maker Nissin, one of Osaka’s top sponsors, said in a statement.
“However, we are not in a position to comment on their individual opinions and actions, so we will refrain from doing so.”