Naomi Osaka delivered a stellar service, aiming straight at the press.
But what came back was a barrage of criticism that forced him out of a major tournament and, for now, the game of tennis itself.
In the process, the 23-year-old superstar revealed that she suffers from depression, sparking a debate about what a wonderfully successful professional athlete owes the media and whether journalists contribute to an unhealthy environment.
In pulling out of the French Open – after being fined $15,000 for blowing up an early press conference – Osaka said: “The truth is I have suffered a prolonged depression since the US Open in 2018. And I’ve had a really tough time with that.”
I was hard on Osaka when Osaka first announced that she would be skipping mandatory press sessions in France for the sake of her “mental health”. It seemed that such a snowfall was going on. How can an athlete be tough enough to win major championships and still be intimidated by a room of reporters?
After all, the woman made over $50 million in advertising last year, making her the highest-paid female athlete. Doesn’t he think the media has turned him into a worldwide celebrity – with mostly positive coverage – and a highly bankable star?
Osaka said in her post to 2.3 million Instagram followers that “the tennis press has always been kind to me” and that “I especially want to apologize to all the cool journalists I’ve hurt.”
But her confession of depression forced me to rethink the situation. It is a reminder that even fame and fortune cannot bring happiness. And that this self-described introvert’s decision to avoid the press was only a sign that she’s struggling to cope with the pressures of being a solo performer in a highly competitive sport. That’s why she is taking a break from tennis.
Following his first-round win on Sunday, Osaka answered questions from an on-court interviewer and Japanese broadcaster WoW, with whom he is under contract. Obviously, she can manipulate in these circumstances. In fact, what propelled her to stardom was the grace with which she handled Serena Williams’ anger and punishment that led her to her first major win at the Open in New York three years ago.
Tennis officials not only fined, but strongly condemned her, with a goalscoring error for Naomi. She refused to join them, threatening her that she could be kicked out of the French Open and barred from other Grand Slam tournaments.
Osaka enjoys acclaim from Mina, the niece of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kamala Harris, and is no stranger to politics. Last year she pulled out of a semifinal match to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, saying that “as a black woman I feel like there are much more important matters at hand,” and the victims Wearing a mask with the name of. The Western and Southern Open postponed the game for some time.
Naomi’s sister Mari Osaka said her sister plays poorly on clay surfaces like the French Open, and she wanted to “block everything” by not talking to reporters, who would inevitably question her on that topic.
Tennis players are divided. Serena Williams says dealing with the media has made her stronger. “I feel for Naomi,” she said. “Not everyone is the same. I’m fat. Others are thin.”
Rafael Nadal told reporters that “without the press, without people traveling in general,” who are “writing the news and the achievements we’re making around the world, we probably wouldn’t be the athletes we are today.” ” They won’t have a “worldwide recognition of us, and we won’t be that popular, no?”
And that’s the match point. Osaka says she never wanted to be distracted and “my message could have been clearer.” I give him credit for speaking about a painfully personal subject. But if you choose to be a pro athlete, dealing with pressures off the court is part of the game.
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