Osaka, they said, refused to engage with them, leaving them with no choice but to pursue significant penalties to help ensure that Osaka did not gain an advantage over her competitors.

“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,” the officials stated. “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.”

Regardless of whatever mental health struggles Osaka may suffer from, her sister, Mari, a former professional tennis player, essentially gave support in a post on Reddit to the argument tennis officials made. In the post, Mari Osaka said that the decision not to attend news conferences was driven largely by Naomi’s struggles to win on clay courts. Mari Osaka stated that every time her sister plays in a clay court tournament the press asks her about her poor record on the surface, which puts negative thoughts in her head.

The French Open is played on clay, so, she explained, her sister decided not to attend news conferences so she could “block everything out. No talking to people who is going to put doubt in her mind.”

Mari Osaka’s post seemed to raise questions about whether her sister suffers from depression. “she’s protecting her mind hence why it’s called mental health. So many people are picky on this term thinking you have to have depression or some sort of disorder to be able to use the term mental health.”

In her post Monday, Osaka described herself as an introverted person who suffers from anxiety before she has to speak with the press. She said she wrote to tournament officials privately to apologize for the distraction she had created and offered to speak with them after the tournament about potentially changing what she described as “outdated” rules requiring players to engage with the media.

After her match Sunday, Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Grand Slam champion, said she disagreed with Osaka’s position. “Press and players and the tournaments comes hand in hand. We are helping you guys,” she said. “I think it’s very important in developing our sport, in promoting our sport.” Azarenka added that she felt there were moments when the media did need to be more compassionate.



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