Just a few days after Naomi Osaka took a stand to protect her mental health, the four-time Grand Slam winner has dropped out of the 2021 French Open, also known as Roland Garros. Here’s exactly what went down.
Naomi Osaka announced she would not participate in press at the French Open.
On May 27, the tennis star explained her decision in an Instagram post, which has since been deleted. “I’m writing this to say I’m not going to do any press during Roland Garros,” she wrote, per British Vogue. “I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.”
“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 23-year-old continued, likening questions about losses to “kicking a person while they’re down.”
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.”
Venus Williams replied, “Girl, do you. Your life is yours to live!”
Osaka was fined $15,000 by all four Grand Slam tournaments.
After making good on her promise not to speak to the press after her first-round win on May 30, all four Grand Slam tournaments—Roland Garros, Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open—released 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,” they wrote. “The mental health of players competing in our tournaments and on the Tours is of the utmost importance to the Grand Slams.”
Despite that pledge, the organizations insisted that the fine was a matter of fairness to other players. “We want to underline that rules are in place to ensure all players are treated exactly the same, no matter their stature, beliefs, or achievement,” read the statement. “As a sport there is nothing more important than ensuring no player has an unfair advantage over another, which unfortunately is the case in this situation if one player refuses to dedicate time to participate in media commitments while the others all honor their commitments.”