The tennis world has continued to react to the stunning decision by Naomi Osaka to quit the French Open, citing mental health concerns.
World no 2 Osaka was fined $15,000 for making good her threat to boycott the media after her open round straight sets win Monday.
This was followed by a joint statement from all four Grand Slam presidents threatening harsher sanctions if she insists on her media war.
But the four-time major winner double down by sensationally announcing her withdrawal from Roland Garros Monday night, sending shockwaves across the tennis world.
According to her, “This stance is against the system requiring athletes to be forced to do press on occasions when they are suffering from mental health.
“I believe it is archaic and in need of reform. After this tournament I want to work with the Tours and the governing bodies to figure out how we best compromise to change the system.”
Reactions have been pouring in since her announcement, with majority of her colleagues and legends of the sport empathizing with her but condemning the decision.
13-time French Open champion Rafa Nadal said: “Without the press … probably we will not be the athletes that we are today.
“We [aren’t] going to have the recognition that we have around the world, and we will not be that popular, no?”
World no 2, Daniil Medvedev, said on the contrary, doing presses makes him feel better.
“I understand why she does it. I respect her opinion,” Medvedev said.
“Me, I have no problems … I try always to come to a press conference, bad mood or good mood. And I feel like, even sometimes in the bad mood, I can be in a better mood after talking to you guys.”
Women world no 1, Ashleigh Barty, said speaking with reporters is simply part of being a professional tennis player.
“In my opinion, press is kind of part of the job. We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players … At times, press conference are hard, of course, but it’s also not something that bothers me.
“For me, personally, doesn’t keep me up at night what I say and hear or what you guys ask me. So I try and make it a little bit lighter and have a bit of fun with you guys. For me, it’s a little bit different, but I can’t comment on [Osaka] personally for what she’s going through, so I suppose you’ll have to ask her that next time you chat to her.”
German legend and six-time major winner, Boris Becker, fears the media boycott could be the end of her career.
“She couldn’t cope with the pressures of facing the media after she loses a match, but that happens frequently and you have to deal with it. If she can’t cope with the media in Paris, she can’t cope with the media in Wimbledon or the U.S. Open. So I almost feel like her career is in danger due to mental health issues.”
Eight-time major winner Mats Wilander gave short shrift to Osaka’s plight, saying she shouldn’t play until she’s ready to face the press.
“We are all struggling with mental issues these days during this pandemic, but Naomi, I think you need to reconsider or, I would say, don’t play the tournament until you are ready to face the job,” the Swedish legend said.