Naomi Osaka Says She Won't Do Press During 2021 French Open to Preserve Her Mental Health

"I'm just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me," the 23-year-old tennis star wrote in a lengthy Instagram post on Wednesday

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty

Naomi Osaka won't be taking questions during the 2021 French Open.

On Wednesday, the 23-year-old tennis star shared a message on social media, letting her followers know that her decision not to do post-match press was an effort to preserve her own mental health.

"I've often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health, and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one," she wrote. "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 added, "I've watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well. I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while their down and I don't understand the reasoning behind it."

Her decision was "nothing personal" toward the tournament or any of the journalists who she'd developed friendly relationships with over the years, she continued.

Professional athletes across many sports are typically required to do post-match press conferences, or they face hefty fines. Osaka said that she's accepting the fines, though she hopes that organizations will rethink that mandate.

"If the organizations think that they can just keep saying, 'do press or you're gonna be fined,' and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are the centerpiece of their cooperation then I just gotta laugh," she concluded. "Anyways, I hope the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity."

naomi osaka
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Osaka isn't the first women's tennis player in recent years to refuse post-match press conferences.

In 2016, Venus Williams was fined $5,000 by the Australian Open for failing to show up for press conferences after she lost in the first round. Williams had previously skipped her media obligations twice before that, each time incurring a fine, according to USA Today.

She and her sister Serena Williams were each fined $4,000 in 2010 after skipping press at Wimbledon after a doubles match, the newspaper reports.

RELATED VIDEO: First Black Leader of USTA, Katrina Adams, Talks Impact of Serena & Venus Williams on the Sport

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To illustrate her point on Wednesday, Osaka shared a clip from an interview with at 14-year-old Venus, filmed after a reporter questioned her confidence in saying "I know I can beat" an upcoming opponent.

Before Williams could defend herself in the clip, her father Richard Williams stepped in.

"You've got to understand that you're dealing with [the] image of a 14-year-old child. And this child is gonna be out there playing when your old a-- and me are gonna be in the grave," he told to the reporter in the video. "You're dealing with a little Black kid. Let her be a kid! She answered that with a lot of confidence, [so] leave that alone."

Osaka also included in her post a 2015 clip of then-Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, as he answered every reporter's question at Super Bowl media day with "I'm just here so I won't get fined."

If you or someone you know need mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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