Osaka withdraws from French Open following row over media boycott

Lawrence Kim
June 1, 2021

The No. 1-ranked women's player had declared she would not speak to the media during Roland Garros and was fined $15,000 U.S. after she skipped the post-match news conference following her first-round victory Sunday.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the four-time Grand Slam victor said that she did not intend to be a distraction from the tournament, and believes it's in her best interests - as well as those of the other players - for her to step back.

The 23-year-old victor of four Grand Slams announced on social media before the French Open that she would be skipping news conferences for the sake of her mental well-being, likening journalists' questions to "kicking a person while they're down".

Tennis fans have been showing support for Osaka and slamming the four Grand Slam tournaments' governing body for taking punitive measures against the player.

Osaka returned to Roland Garros after sitting out the tournament previous year and turned in a mistake-filled 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over 63rd-ranked Patricia Maria Tig at Court Philippe Chatrier on Day 1. "As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament (Code of Conduct article III T.) and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions (Code of Conduct article IV A.3.)".

"She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them and that rules should equally apply to all players".

We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery and we look forward to having Naomi in our tournament next year. She answered three questions from the on-court interviewer, Fabrice Santoro, after the match and a few more queries on her way off the court from Wowow, the Japanese broadcaster with whom she is under contract. But the Grand Slam leaders emphasized that the news media still played an important role.

"First and foremost we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka", Moretton said.

"I was always trying to follow the rules and be fair not only on the court but off the court as well".

Osaka's defiant stand overshadowed the opening day of the 2021 French Open which saw two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem crash at the first hurdle.

Andujar said his recent win over Roger Federer in Geneva ranked higher.

Osaka is in her prime as a player and quickly becoming the face of women's tennis, with her vast skill set on the court and the 39-year-old Serena Williams in the twilight of her career.

However, there was nobody inside the cavernous Chatrier Court to assess his credentials as the match started just before a 9pm Covid-19 curfew came into effect. "The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland Garros is unfortunate".

There is concern among tennis leaders that Osaka could set a precedent at a time when social media has given stars a broad platform to reach the public directly.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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