Naomi Osaka fined $15K for media boycott, could face tournament defaults

Lula Sharp
June 1, 2021

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

Much of the commentary around Osaka's clay-court struggles stem from the fact she's never seriously contended in Paris, having not passed the third round in four appearances, while she's never beaten a top-20 player on clay during her career.

After announcing she will not be doing any interviews with the press, citing mental health concerns, and being fined for thousands of dollars for doing so, the 23-year-old superstar athlete announced she is withdrawing from the competition on Monday (May 31).

The four-time Major champion explained that press conferences have been a source of considerable stress to her due to her social anxiety, but that she felt that the story had become an unnecessary distraction from the tennis and that withdrawing from the tournament was the best choice as a result.

"Following [Osaka's] announcement, the Roland-Garros teams asked her to reconsider her position and 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 statement read.

Martina Navratilova, an 18-time Grand Slam champion, tweeted that she is "so sad about Naomi Osaka", adding that "perhaps the mental & emotional aspect gets short shrift".

The 2016 Roland Garros victor was beaten 6-1, 6-4 by world No. 81 Kostyuk in an hour and 29 minutes.

Good on them for showing solidarity with their fellow athlete and supporting Naomi Osaka. The four-time Grand Slam tournament victor addressed the fine in a tweet after her 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over 63rd-ranked Patricia Maria Tig. "I have to give credit to him", Nishikori said.

In a post on Twitter the same day, she wrote, "anger is a lack of understanding. change makes people uncomfortable".

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And that was that from a player who has now strung together 15 successive Grand Slam match wins.

Osaka is in her prime as a player and quickly becoming the face of women's tennis, with her huge skill set on the court and the 39-year-old Serena Williams in the twilight of her career. "Hopefully I'll keep it going".

She was fined $15,000 for skipping her postmatch news conference Sunday after her victory against Patricia Maria Tig.

"You want to win a Grand Slam", Osaka said.

Daniil Medvedev, who had lost in the first round in all of his four previous appearances in the tournament, put his poor clay-court form behind him by beating the unsafe Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-3, 7-5.

Petra Kvitova, a semi-finalist past year, saved a match point in the second set against Greet Minnen before coming through 6-7 (3) 7-6 (5) 6-1.

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.

Osaka is now the biggest draw in women's tennis.

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