Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka has been fined $15,000 after ducking out of a mandatory press conference following her win in the first round at Sunday’s French Open.
Osaka, a 23-year-old Japanese tennis phenom who has drawn considerable attention for her on-court talent, now could face stiffer punishment in future rounds if she skips future press conferences. Those consequences could even include default or disqualification from the tournament if she continues to decide not to talk to the media.
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According to ESPN, in a joint statement from the four Grand Slam tournaments, including the French Open, tournament directors said they wrote to Osaka reminding her of her mandatory media obligations, as well as the consequences should she opt out of doing so.
Part of the statement alluded directly to the possibility that Osaka could be removed from tournaments, reading (below):
“As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament (Code of Conduct article III T.) and the trigger of a major offense investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions (Code of Conduct article IV A.3.).”
And the statement continued, alleging that the disqualification possibility was simply a matter of fairness and ensuring that all tennis athletes meet the media obligations outlined by the tournaments:
“We want to underline that rules are in place to ensure all players are treated exactly the same, no matter their stature, beliefs or achievement. As a sport there is nothing more important than ensuring no player has an unfair advantage over another, which unfortunately is the case in this situation if one player refuses to dedicate time to participate in media commitments while the others all honor their commitments.”
Is this really fair?!
Obviously, from the tennis organizations’ perspective, it is in their best interest to have all their athletes speak to the media. The media literally promotes the sport and covers it on all platforms, giving the talented athletes a connection to the public.
Then again, media demands upon athletes — like celebs — can be grating, annoying, obnoxious, and aggressive, to name a few possibilities.
BTW, after winning her first round match on Sunday, Osaka took to Twitter with a brief message (below):
anger is a lack of understanding. change makes people uncomfortable.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 30, 2021
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We can certainly see where Osaka is coming from here in being uninterested in speaking to the press, and asserting by default that it’s her right not to talk. And we can also see where the Grand Slams want athletes to cooperate with media outlets and help promote the sport to fans and future players.
What do U make of this controversy, Perezcious readers? Whose side are you on?? Sound OFF with your take down in the comments (below)…
[Image via WENN/Instar]