Naomi Osaka Says She’s Shunning Media At French Open To Protect Her Mental Health

Naomi Osaka has said won’t be speaking to the media at this year’s French Open in order to preserve her mental health.

The tennis superstar, who represents Japan, announced Wednesday in a message on Twitter that she wouldn’t do any press appearances during the Roland-Garros tournament, which runs from May 30 to June 13 in Paris.

“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” she wrote, noting that athletes are often asked to answer repeated questions that spark self-doubt. 

Professional tennis players are fined thousands of dollars if they fail to attend mandated post-match press conferences, in which reporters sometimes grill athletes on the reasons behind their losses or missteps.

“I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me,” she said. “I’ve watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well. I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”

Osaka said the decision wasn’t meant as a criticism of the tournament, though she said she refused to acquiesce to threats that she’d be fined if she didn’t “do press.”

“I hope the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity,” she said.

It’s not the first time a tennis pro has refused to make media appearances.

In 2016, Venus Williams paid a $5,000 penalty in order to skip discussing her early exit from the Australian Open. She has paid fines to miss press conferences twice before, according to the Guardian, including once in 2010 when she and her sister, Serena, were fined $4,000 each for a no-show after a doubles match at Wimbledon.

Other players, including Andre Agassi, Mats Wilander, Goran Ivanisevic, Victoria Azarenka and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, have also paid to skip press events.

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