Naomi Osaka says press conference format “badly needs updating”


The four-time Grand Slam champion who withdrew from Roland Garros in May citing mental health reasons later revealed that she had “suffered from long periods of depression” since winning her first Grand Slam title in 2018. Osaka then withdrew from Wimbledon.

However, the four-time Grand Slam champion said she never intended to “inspire revolt”.

“I love the press, I don’t like all press conferences,” Osaka wrote. “However, in my opinion (and I want to say this is only my opinion and not that of all tennis players on tour), the format of the press conference itself is in dire need of a refresh. . “

“I believe we can do better […] Less subject versus object; more equal to equal.

“Athletes are humans. Tennis is our privileged profession and of course there are commitments off the court that coincide. But I can’t imagine another profession where a consistent attendance record […] would be so severely scrutinized, ”Osaka adds.

Osaka says she made the decision to step down from media duties in order to preserve her sanity.
The 23-year-old Osaka player will return to competitive tennis at the Tokyo Olympics later this month. She is one of Japan’s top gold medal prospects.

Citing his natural introversion and desire not to woo the spotlight, Osaka went on to say in his first-person essay for TIME: “I always try to force myself to stand up for what I think is right, but it happens a lot. at a cost of great anxiety.

“I feel uncomfortable being the spokesperson or the face of athlete mental health because it’s still so new to me and I don’t have all the answers. I hope people can understand and understand that it’s okay not to be well, and it’s okay to talk about it. “

“I should have been prepared”

With earthquake events including last summer’s BLM protests, the coronavirus pandemic and the global rise in anti-Asian hate crimes exposing the fault lines in society, Osaka says it should have anticipated the mixed reaction following his decision to withdraw from media duties earlier this year.

“You can never please everyone,” she wrote in the essay. “The world is as divided today as I can remember in my short 23 years.”

“I should have been prepared.”

Osaka says she should have anticipated the mixed reaction after stepping down from media duties at Roland Garros earlier this year.

Feel under pressure

Osaka goes on to propose that athletes have the right to take a mental break from media scrutiny on rare occasions, without being subject to strict penalties.

She points out, “You wouldn’t have to disclose your most personal symptoms to your employer; there would likely be HR measures protecting at least some level of confidentiality.”

Announcing her Roland Garros default, Osaka revealed she experienced long bouts of depression after winning her first Grand Slam title in 2018.

“I felt under a lot of pressure to disclose my symptoms – frankly because the press and the tournament didn’t believe me. I don’t wish that on anyone,” she said.

“I never want to ever again have to engage in a scrutiny of my personal medical history. So I ask the press for some level of intimacy and empathy the next time we meet.”

After Osaka’s withdrawal from Roland Garros, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) said it was “sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka”.

“The result of Naomi’s withdrawal from Roland Garros is unfortunate. We wish her the best and the fastest possible, and we look forward to having Naomi at our tournament next year,” said the president of the French Federation. tennis player Gilles Moretton in a press release.

“Like all Grand Slam tournaments, the WTA, ATP and ITF, we remain very committed to the well-being of all athletes and to the continuous improvement of every aspect of the player experience in our tournament. , including with the media, as we have always tried to do.

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