Ahead of the French Open, Naomi Osaka announced she would not be speaking to the media, saying raising awareness for mental health issues among athletes is her reasoning behind the decision. After her first-round match win against Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday, Osaka stood by her word and was handed a fine for her actions.
Osaka, who represents Japan, was fined $15,000 for not participating in a mandatory post-match press conference and was also given a warning that if she continues to not speak with the media she could risk even stronger penalties. She could risk default from the French Open and the tournament organizers at Roland Garros said there could be "more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions."
Organizers say they are frustrated in the situation and said the French Open management team said they "tried unsuccessfully to speak with her to check on her well-being, understand the specifics of her issue and what might be done to address it on site."
The leaders of the Grand Slam tennis events wrote in a statement:
"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. 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 honour their commitments."
Grand Slam leaders also said they have ways to help athletes with mental health issues.
"We individually and collectively have significant resources dedicated to player well-being. In order to continue to improve, however, we need engagement from the players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experiences."
They wanted to emphasize the importance of athletes speaking to the media. They wrote that the media availability "allow both the players and the media to share their perspective and for the players to tell their story. The facilitation of media to a broad array of channels, both traditional and digital, is a major contributor to the development and growth of our sport and the fan base of individual players."
Osaka said she wanted to make this statement of not speaking to make people aware of what athletes experience in press conferences.
"I've often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one. We're 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," she wrote on Twitter earlier this week.