Published: Tue, June 01, 2021

Naomi Osaka fined $15K for media boycott, could face tournament defaults

Naomi Osaka fined $15K for media boycott, could face tournament defaults

Japan's tennis player Naomi Osaka has said she is withdrawing from the French Open following the bitter fallout from her decision to boycott all media activity.

The No. 1-ranked women's player had declared she would not speak to the media during Roland Garros and was fined $15,000 United States after she skipped the post-match news conference following her first-round victory Sunday.

Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam title victor and sport's highest-earning female athlete, was sanctioned for refusing to hold a press conference after her opening 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) victory over Romanian world number 63 Patricia Maria Tig.

On Wednesday, Osaka released a statement saying she would not face the media during the course of the French Open, citing the impact of news conferences on the mental health of players.

She likened traditional post-match inquests to "kicking people when they're down".

"First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka", Gilles Moretton, president of the French Tennis Federation, said in a statement.

The four-time major victor posted a statement on Twitter saying she was pulling out so that "everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris", adding that she would "take some time away from the court".

"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.

In a post on Twitter the same day, she wrote, "anger is a lack of understanding. change makes people uncomfortable". I think the process should be the same for every tennis player.

"Hopefully the more I play, the better I will become". "As all the Grand Slams, the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, we remain very committed to all athletes' well-being and to continually improving all aspects of players experience in our tournaments including with the media like we have always tried to do".

The Grand Slam Board said Osaka's refusal to take part in media duties put opponents at a disadvantage.

"I was always trying to follow the rules and be fair not only on the court but off the court as well.

It's just important to find the balance", she said. "So it's good and bad".

A couple parts of Osaka's statement stand out above all.

Osaka returned to Roland Garros after sitting out the tournament previous year and turned in a mistake-filled 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over 63rd-ranked Patricia Maria Tig at Court Philippe Chatrier on Day 1.

"Losing after being two sets to zero up, it's very odd to me, and I have to think about what's wrong at the moment", said Thiem.

The 39-year-old, still one behind Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, saved two set points in the first-set tie-break but dominated from then on.

"For me, he is like a myth".

The loss in Rome, to Jessica Pegula, meant Osaka went into Roland-Garros having won just one clay-court match this season, over the relatively lowly ranked Misaki Doi in Mardrid.

The Greek is widely tipped as a potential champion should 13-time victor Rafael Nadal or world number one Novak Djokovic falter.

The match under the lights on Court Philippe Chatrier was played behind closed doors due to a 9pm curfew imposed by the French government due to Covid-19.

A compelling battle of former slam champions was won 6-4 2-6 6-3 by Victoria Azarenka against Svetlana Kuznetsova, who won the title in Paris back in 2009.

The Russian is bidding to take advantage of being in the opposite half of the draw to 13-time champion Nadal, Djokovic and Federer, while fourth seed Dominic Thiem was knocked out on Sunday.

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