Osaka fined and could be expelled from Roland Garros for boycotting journalists
Naomi Osaka was fined $ 15,000 by tennis Grand Slam organizers on Sunday and warned of possible expulsion from Roland Garros and suspension of future adults after the world number two skipped a conference press after his opening victory at Roland Garros.
The 23-year-old, four-time Grand Slam winner, spoke about the impact on players’ mental well-being of her decision ahead of the clay-court major not to hold a press conference, saying the nature of the questions reporters was like “kick a person when he’s down”.
Osaka began her Roland Garros campaign with a victory over Romanian Patricia Maria Tig 6-4 7-6 (4), then boycotted the post-match press conference, although she held an interview on the field immediately after the game.
The board for the four Grand Slam tournaments said in a statement on Sunday that Roland Garros organizers had asked Osaka to reconsider his position and unsuccessfully tried to speak to him to resolve the issue.
“The Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open have written to him jointly to check on his well-being and offer his support, to underline their commitment to the well-being of all athletes and to suggest a dialogue” , indicates the press release.
âHe was also reminded of his obligations, the consequences of not respecting them and that the rules should apply equally to all players.
“Naomi Osaka has chosen today not to honor her contractual media obligations. The Roland-Garros referee has therefore fined her $ 15,000.”
Osaka management did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Japanese player, who lives in Florida, never made it past the third round at Roland Garros and arrived in Paris with just three matches under her belt on clay after early defeats in Madrid and Rome.
After the great American Serena Williams, Osaka enjoys the highest visibility among all female tennis players, and the Women’s Tennis Association has said it would also welcome a dialogue with her regarding the boycott of its press conference.
Osaka, which sports commerce website Sportico has earned $ 55.2 million in the past 12 months, has in the past used its platform and considerable media attention to highlight issues of police violence and racial inequality.
While announcing her decision on Twitter to boycott the press conferences, she said she hoped the “considerable amount” she expected to lose as a fine would go to a mental health charity. .
20-time Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal and women’s world number one Ash Barty have said they believe players have a duty to speak to the media.
Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Mats Wilander said on Sunday that Osaka should not be playing tournament tennis until they are ready to participate in the post-match press conferences.
“We informed Naomi Osaka that if she continued to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would face possible other consequences of violating the Code of Conduct,” said the board of directors.
âAs might be expected, repeated violations lead to more severe penalties, including tournament default … and the triggering of a major infraction investigation that could lead to higher fines and future Grand Slam suspensions. “
Osaka, however, showed no sign of being distracted by the problem in their opener on a sun-drenched Philippe Chatrier court.
Asked in her field interview about how she is adapting her game on the surface, Osaka said, “It’s a work in progress. Hopefully the more I play, the better I play.”
“I’m really happy to have won. It’s a great pitch. I’ve only played two games here (on Philippe Chatrier), one in front of the roof and one now, so I hope I will continue.”
Osaka, 23, who missed last year’s tournament with a hamstring problem, was not inclined to engage in long rallies and looked too powerful against 63rd ranked Tig.
She marked her authority over the game early with a 5-2 lead but needed a second break of service after the Romanian staged a late retaliation.
Tig saved a save point and match point to put the second set in a tiebreaker before Osaka sealed it with a backhand winner to set up a second round encounter with another Romanian in Ana Bogdan. .