“I understand why she’s doing this. I respect his opinion, ”tennis No.2 Daniil Medvedev said Friday at Roland Garros, echoing a common sentiment as a parade of the game’s best players – but not, of course, Osaka – passed from time to take questions. journalists during a pre-competition ritual two days before the start of the action.
“I have no problem” dealing with reporters, Medvedev added, responding to a question from a reporter in one of the afternoon navel gazing moments. “I always try to come to a press conference, in a bad mood or in a good mood. And I feel like even in a bad mood sometimes I can be in a better mood after talking with you guys.
Other players, including 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal and leading woman Ash Barty, and the women’s professional tennis tour said talking to reporters was a requirement in their jobs.
“Without the press… we probably won’t be the athletes we are today,” Nadal said. “We’re (not) going to get the recognition that we have around the world, and we’re not going to be that popular, right?”
Osaka, the No.2-ranked four-time Grand Slam champion, said via a Twitter message on Wednesday that she was not going to participate in the standard round trips with the media in Paris – the kind of thing every athlete in every sport does. regularly.
“There is a lot of truth in what she said, but then again there are also the expectations and the commitments that come with being a professional athlete, and this is one of them,” said Johanna Konta, triple major semi-finalist. The 20th, “it is therefore a question of finding … the right balance”.
In Grand Slam tournaments, players are subject to fines of up to $ 20,000 for skipping press conferences if they are invited to speak and fail to do so.
This isn’t much of a deterrent for Osaka, the world’s highest paid female athlete, who touted it as a mental health issue and said she hoped anything that came out of her prize would go to one. charity in this area.
“We often sit there and ask questions that have been asked many times before or questions that make us doubt and I just won’t submit to people who doubt me,” Osaka wrote.
The WTA tour on Friday reminded Osaka of its “responsibility” to interact with reporters.
A statement emailed to The Associated Press on Friday by a WTA spokeswoman and attributed to the tour reads in part: “The WTA welcomes a dialogue with Naomi (and all players) to discuss possible approaches that can help an athlete deal with their concerns. related to mental health, while allowing 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. “
The French Tennis Federation did not respond to a request for comment.
“In my opinion, the press is kind of part of the job. We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players. … Sometimes press conferences are difficult, of course, but that’s also not something that bothers me. … For me, personally, does not prevent me from sleeping at night what I say and hear or what you ask me. So I’m trying to make it a little lighter and have a little fun with you, ”said Barty, the 2019 Roland Garros champion.
“For me it’s a little different, but I can’t comment (Osaka) personally for what she’s going through,” Barty said, “so I guess you’ll have to ask her that the next time you talk to her. . “
Who knows when it will be?
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
More from AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports