*Tennis champ Naomi Osaka has made clear that will not take part in any press conferences during the French Open.
“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,” the 23-year-old wrote. “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 not just going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 26, 2021
“If the organizations think that they can just keep saying ‘do press or you’re gonna be fined’ and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are the centerpiece of their cooperation then I just gotta laugh,” Osaka said.
She added: “I’ve watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well. I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”
She later posted a clip of Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s saying “I’m just here so I don’t get fined” at a Super Bowl media day.
Meanwhile, World number one Novak Djokovic says speaking to the media is just part of the job.
“I understand the press conferences sometimes can be very unpleasant, and it’s not something you enjoy always – especially if you lose a match. But it is part of the sport and part of your life on the tour, and this is something we will have to do, otherwise we will get fined,” he said.
“I think the topic of the mental well-being is probably underestimated on the tour, especially in the last 15 months with this virus. I think we do need to talk about that a little bit more and understand what we have to do collectively to make players feel better.”