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World No. 2 Says She Won't Speak to French Open Press

'People have no regard for athletes' mental health,' Naomi Osaka says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2021 3:47 AM CDT
Updated May 28, 2021 5:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – Naomi Osaka says she will not be taking part in mandatory press appearances during the French Open—and if she is fined, she hopes the proceeds go to a mental health charity. The Japanese tennis star, currently ranked the World No. 2, tweeted Thursday that she has often felt "people have no regard for athletes' mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one," the Guardian reports. The four-time Grand Slam champion said journalists ask athletes questions that "bring doubt into our minds" and she does not want to be subjected to it. Gilles Moretton, president of the French Tennis Federation, said Osaka was making a "phenomenal mistake" and would be fined.

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"I've watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well," Osaka wrote. "I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it." The 23-year-old could be fined up to $20,000 per missed press conference. Her decision has sparked debate over the rule that says players have to speak to the press within 30 minutes after a match, the BBC reports. "If it was just more time after that big loss, so that you can compose yourself and digest and cry out of the spotlight," says British player Naomi Broady. "It's difficult because it is also your opportunity to show your passion and your personality, but if it's on an occasion when you are so upset it's difficult that you're almost forced by the rules to do it so quickly." (Read more Naomi Osaka stories.)

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