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Naomi Osaka has announced she will not take part in any press during the 2021 French Open at the Stade Roland Garros. The four-time grand slam winner explained her reasoning for this decision in an Instagram post on Wednesday.
"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 question 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."
Naomi continued, saying, "I believe the whole situation is kicking a person while they're down and I don't understand the reasoning behind it." She explained that "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."
According to the Official Grand Slam Rule Book, "unless injured and physically unable to appear, a player or team must attend the post-match media conference(s) organized immediately or within thirty (30) minutes after the conclusion of each match...whether the player or team was the winner or loser." Any violation of that will result in a fine of up to $20,000.
Naomi, though, has already addressed this, finishing off her statement by saying, "I hope the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity."
The French Open begins on Sunday, May 30th, and Naomi is ranked second in the women's singles, coming off her win at the Australian Open in February.
This is hardly the first time Naomi has used her platform to take a stand. At the US Open in September 2020, she wore various masks with the names of Black people who have been killed by police including Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd.
"It's quite sad that seven masks isn't enough for the amount of names," Osaka said in an interview. "Hopefully, I'll get to the finals and you can see all of them." She ended up winning the tournament.
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