Before the French Open, Naomi Osaka released a statement via social media saying that she was not going to be doing any interviews with the media after her matches. After following through with this decision, she is facing consequences. According to a statement from Roland-Garros, Osaka is being fined $15,000 for skipping the interviews, which are mandatory.
“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,” the statement read.
In the statement, Roland-Garros stated that Osaka was advised to reconsider her decision to not engage with the media and warned her that her decision would cause her to endure fines and other penalties. Other possible sanctions include “default from the tournament (Code of Conduct article III T.) and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions.”
They also said that despite Osaka feeling that not doing press is protecting her mental health, resources have been provided to support mental health and that it is her responsibility to do interviews, not an option.
We individually and collectively have significant resources dedicated to player well-being. In order to continue to improve however, we need engagement from the players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experiences. Every year we seek to deliver better experiences to our fans, our players and our people, and we have a long and successful track record in achievement on this count. A core element of the Grand Slam regulations is the responsibility of the players to engage with the media, whatever the result of their match, a responsibility which players take for the benefit of the sport, the fans and for themselves. These interactions allow both the players and the media to share their perspective and for the players to tell their story. The facilitation of media to a broad array of channels, both traditional and digital, is a major contributor to the development and growth of our sport and the fan base of individual players.
The four-time Grand Slam winner said that she felt that during press conferences, she is “asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.” She also acknowledged that she was going to fined and that it wasn’t going to change her mind.
“I watch many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well,” she noted before expressing, “I believe that the whole situation is kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it. Me not doing press is nothing personal to the tournament and a couple [of the] journalists have interviewed me since I was young so I have a friendly relationship with most of them. However, 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 centerpieces of their [corporations] then I just gotta laugh. Anyways, I hope the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity.”