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WTA, Nadal, Barty & Swiatek respond to Osaka media blackout

The WTA have reminded Naomi Osaka of her "responsibilities" after she said she would not be fulfi...



WTA, Nadal, Barty & Swiatek re...
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WTA, Nadal, Barty & Swiatek respond to Osaka media blackout

The WTA have reminded Naomi Osaka of her "responsibilities" after she said she would not be fulfilling media duties at Roland Garros. 

The world no.2 confirmed via social media that she would not be speaking to the press at next week's French Open.

"I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one," Osaka wrote.

"We are often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me."

Players can be fined up to $20,000 for not attending mandatory Grand Slam press conferences, and Osaka has requested whatever she gets fined be donated to a mental health charity.

There has been a mixed response to Osaka's decision, and she's received backing from former F1 world champion Nico Rosberg, Wimbledon finalist Zina Garrison and British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith.

But the WTA do not appear as keen to offer support.

"Professional athletes have a responsibility to their sport and their fans to speak to the media surrounding their competition," the said, "allowing them the opportunity to share their perspective and tell their story."

The women's tour organisers added, "Mental health is of the utmost importance to the WTA and for that matter, every individual person.

"We have a team of professionals and a support system in place that look after our athletes' mental and emotional health and well-being.

"The WTA welcomes a dialogue with Naomi (and all players) to discuss possible approaches that can help support an athlete as they manage any concerns related to mental health."

Phenomenal mistake

The only woman above Osaka in the WTA rankings - Ashleigh Barty - also steered clear of backing the Japanese star.

"We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players," the Aussie said on Friday. "I can't really comment on what Naomi is feeling or her decisions she makes.

"At times press conference are hard, of course, but it's also not something that bothers me. Certainly doesn't keep me up at night what I say and hear or what you guys ask me."

Reigning French Open champion Iga Swiatek added, "I don't find (press conferences) difficult.

"It gives us a chance to explain our perspective, so I think it's good."

Osaka's decision has been deemed a "phenomenal mistake" by French Tennis Federation (FFT) President Gilles Moretton.

"What is happening is, in my opinion, not acceptable. We will stick to the laws and rules for penalties and fines," he added.

13-time French Open champion Rafa Nadal played up the importance of the media to the tennis pro, telling reporters, "I respect her, of course, as an athlete and her personality. I respect her decision.

"We need to be ready to accept the questions and to try to produce an answer.

"Without the people writing the news and achievements that we are having around the world, probably we will not be the athletes that we are today."

"I have my point of view that the media is a very important part of our sport."

Novak Djokovic also stuck his oar in the water, saying, "I understand that press conferences sometimes can be very unpleasant.

"And it's not something that you enjoy, always, you know, especially if you lose a match or something like this.

"But it is part of the sport and part of your life on the tour. This is something we have to do, otherwise, we will get fined.

"I mean, that's at least the case on the men's side. I don't know about the rules on the women's side. So that's all I can say."

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Ashleigh Barty French Open Iga Swiatek Naomi Osaka Novak Djokovic Rafa Nadal Roland Garros Tennis WTA

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