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Citing mental health concerns, Osaka to boycott media at French Open

Tennis -WTA Premier 5 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 12, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka looks dejected after losing her second round match against Jessica Pegula of U.S. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo

Japan’s Naomi Osaka  (Reuters)

Four-times Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka on Wednesday said she will not take questions from the press at this year’s French Open, saying the nature of news conferences puts an undue burden on players’ mental health.

“I’m writing this to say I’m not going to do any press during Roland Garros,” the Japanese wrote on Twitter.

“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.”

Osaka added that expecting players to answer questions after losses amounted to “kicking a person while they’re down”.

The world number two said the decision was “nothing personal” against the tournament or a couple of journalists she said she has a friendly relationship with and that she hoped the tournaments would reconsider their approach.

She added that she hoped the “considerable amount” that she expects to be fined will go towards a mental health charity.

Osaka later tweeted a video of former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch famously repeating the line “I’m just here so I won’t get fined”, at a pre-Super Bowl press conference in 2015.

Osaka has in the past used her platform and considerable press attention to highlight issues of police violence and racial inequality.

French Open qualifiers are underway and the tournament is due to end on June 13.

gsg


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