The fallout from Naomi Osaka’s announcement that she will not perform her mandatory media duties at Roland Garros this year due to its effects on her mental health continued at Roland Garros. Rafael Nadal, Ashleigh Barty and Daniil Medvedev were all invited to discuss Osaka’s comments on the media day before the tournament.
Nadal, trying to win his 14th title at Roland Garros over the next fortnight, affirmed his “respect” for Osaka and his decision while pleading for the importance of the press in promoting the sport: “I respect him ”Nadal said. “I respect her, of course, as an athlete and her personality. I respect his decision. I do not know. I mean, we as sportsmen, I mean, we have to be prepared to take questions and try to produce an answer, right?
“I understand her, but on the other hand, for me, I mean, without the press, without the people who normally travel, who write the news and the accomplishments that we have in the world, we probably won’t be the ones. athletes that we are today. We [wouldn’t] have the recognition that we have in the world, and we won’t be that popular, right? “
Barty, the world number 1, said she considers speaking with the press to be part of the job: “We know what we are all about as professional tennis players. I can’t really comment on how Naomi feels or the decisions she makes. Sometimes press conferences are tough, sure, but that’s also not something that bothers me. I’ve never had a problem answering questions or being completely honest with you guys. It’s not something that has ever bothered me too much.
Second seed Medvedev said he was happy with his meetings with the press because reporters have yet to tell him how he should act on the pitch: “I don’t see any journalists trying to attack me. , you know, ”he said. . “Of course we know, for example, that I don’t win much on clay and that I can go crazy. But I haven’t really had a reporter telling me, “OK, you shouldn’t do this or that,” because that’s when I’m going to go crazy. I’m going to say, ‘You can’t tell me that.’ “
Medvedev also argued that he was a little more concerned about abuse on social media, especially from players, than his interactions in the press room: “Speaking of journalists, I don’t have no problem. I always try to come to the press conference [whether in a] bad mood or good humor. And I feel like even in a bad mood sometimes I can be in a better mood after talking to you.
Osaka may have expected more public agreement from his colleagues. On Thursday evening, Sports Illustrated reporter Jon Wertheim posted an email from Osaka to the French Tennis Federation, stating his goal of changing the current system.
“This position is against the system forcing athletes to be forced to press when they are suffering from mental health issues,” she said. wrote. “I think it’s archaic and needs reform. After this tournament, I want to work with the Tours and the governing bodies to find the best way to compromise to change the system. “
Earlier Thursday, the President of the French Tennis Federation, Gilles Moretton, called Osaka’s announcement a “phenomenal mistake” and said the tournament would apply rules which state that players can be fined up to go up to $ 20,000. Osaka’s absence from the pre-tournament press conference would mark his first rule violation.
The Women’s Tennis Association then made a statement on Osaka, affirming the importance of mental health to the organization and the role the media play in promoting it: “The WTA welcomes a dialogue with Naomi (and all the players) to discuss possible approaches that can help support an athlete in dealing with any mental health concerns, while also enabling us to fulfill our responsibilities to fans and the public. Professional athletes have a responsibility to their sport and their fans to speak to the media surrounding their competition, allowing them to share their perspective and tell their story. “
Meanwhile, Britain’s No.1 Johanna Konta announced she got engaged to boyfriend Jackson last Monday on her 30th birthday: “We haven’t set a date yet. It was a semi-surprise, I wasn’t completely shocked, I kind of expected it once the box entered my hand and thought it might be a ring, all done in the good humor and it all done with a lot of love and that was something that I will always consider really adorable, ”she said.