Tennis champion Naomi Osaka was fined $15,000 on Sunday for refusing to hold interviews with the press as she participates in the French Open. Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam winner, said in a Wednesday tweet that she wouldn’t speak with the press during the tournament because she has “often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or participate in one.”
She skipped her post-match press conference after her first round victory over Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday.
In a joint statement announcing the fine, heads of the organizations in charge of all four Grand Slam tournaments said Osaka chose not to honor her contractual obligation when she announced she wouldn’t speak with the media. In their statement, they said they have “significant resources dedicated to player wellbeing” but claimed they were unable to reach Osaka after making multiple attempts. “We need engagement from the players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experiences,” they said. All four organizations warned that Osaka could face suspension from future tournaments for violating the code of conduct if she continues to refuse to speak with the media.
“A core element of the Grand Slam regulations is the responsibility of the players to engage with the media, whatever the result of their match, a responsibility which players take for the benefit of the sport, the fans and for themselves,” the officials said.
“As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions.”
In her tweet announcing she wouldn’t engage in press events at the French Open, Osaka addressed her impending fine. “If the organizations can just keep saying ‘do press or you’re gonna get fined,’ and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are the centerpiece of their cooperation, then I just gotta laugh.”
Osaka’s next match, against Ana Bogdan, is scheduled for Wednesday.