Naomi Osaka fined $15,000 and threatened with suspension for avoiding media at French Open

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W.L.C.

Naomi Osaka has been fined $15,000 after not appearing at a press conference at the French Open, the tournament organization announced Sunday. In addition to the fine, the No. 2-ranked, four-time Grand Slam winner could face harsher penalties if she continues to refuse to speak to the media. 

WLC

“Naomi Osaka today chose not to honor 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 four Grand Slam tournaments said Sunday in a joint statement.

Osaka had announced last Wednesday that she would not do press at the French Open because she considered the practice harmful to athletes’ mental health. “We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m not just going to subject myself to people that doubt me,” she wrote across social media platforms. The 23-year-old added that she hoped any fines she is forced to pay would go toward a mental health charity.

Osaka followed through on her promise after her first-round win against Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday when she did not attend the post-match press conference. She did participate in the traditional on-court interview immediately following the match, however.

The Grand Slam organizations — which include Tennis Australia, the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) and the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) said Sunday that they had previously reached out to Osaka “to check on her well-being and offer support, underline their commitment to all athletes’ well-being and suggest dialog on the issues.”

“She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them and that rules should equally apply to all players,” the organizations said, adding that, “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.”

The groups went on to highlight existing resources focused on players’ mental health, and said they “need engagement from the players” in order to improve those services.

The Grand Slam organizations also said they have informed Osaka that continued refusal to do media appearances will lead to further punishment: “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 offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions (Code of Conduct article IV A.3.).”

Osaka has not yet commented on the fine levied against her or the threat of default and suspension. She is scheduled to face Ana Bogdan in the second round.





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