French Open: Osaka media boycott leaves Billie Jean King 'torn'

By Sports Desk May 31, 2021

Naomi Osaka's decision to boycott mandatory media interviews at the French Open has left tennis legend Billie Jean King "torn".

Osaka revealed in the build-up to the second grand slam of the year that she would not partake in media duties, stating that "people have no regard for athletes' mental health" during news conferences.

The WTA – organisers of the women's tour – encouraged the Japanese superstar to reach out for support with her mental well-being but stressed she had a "responsibility" to her sport to honour contractual commitments.

The 23-year-old conducted an on-court interview after beating Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday but did not appear at the allotted time for her post-match media conference and was hit with a $15,000 by tournament organisers, who threatened further sanctions, including a possible suspension.

King, a 12-time grand slam singles champion, took to Twitter to outline her stance on what is proving to be a contentious issue.

"I fully admire and respect what Naomi is doing with her platform, so I am a little torn as I try to learn from both sides of the situation," wrote King, a co-founder of the WTA.

"While it's important that everyone has the right to speak their truth, I have always believed that as professional athletes we have a responsibility to make ourselves available to the media.

"In our day, without the press, nobody would have known who we are or what we thought. There is no question they helped build and grow our sport to what it is today.

"I acknowledge things are very different now with social media and everyone having an immediate ability to speak their truth.

"The media still play an important role in telling our story. There is no question that the media needs to respect certain boundaries.

"But at the end of the day it is important that we respect each other and we are in this together."

Osaka plays Ana Bogdan in round two on Wednesday.

Related items

  • Gaston saves four match points to reach Gstaad semis with top seed Ruud Gaston saves four match points to reach Gstaad semis with top seed Ruud

    Hugo Gaston showed admirable spirit as the young Frenchman saved four match points in a gripping tie-break against Cristian Garin en route to reaching his first ATP Tour semi-final.

    Garin, the fourth seed, responded impressively to going a set down and then got to match point four times in their third-set tie-break, but he could not hold his nerve and Gaston got the job done 6-4 1-6 7-6 (13-11).

    The Chilean was on the back foot right from the start Gaston broke him in the first game, and although Garin did hit back to make it 3-3, his opponent quickly had the advantage again and went on to seal the first set.

    Garin's response was emphatic and clinical, dropping just three points on his serve and taking both of the break points that came his way to level the match.

    The pair could not be separated in a back-and-forth third set, but Garin was the first to get match point at 6-5 in the tie-break – they would trade another six equally between them before Gaston finally prevailed at 13-11, leaving the 20-year-old satisfied.

    "I am very happy to be in my first [ATP Tour] semi-final," Gaston said after.

    "It was a great fight. It was a really long match. I always tried to play my game, and it is a good win for me. I hope I can continue like that."

    Up next for Gaston will be Laslo Djere after he saw off Arthur Rinderknech 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4, while Casper Ruud – the highest seed remaining – is also into the final four.

    The Norwegian was victorious at the Swedish Open last week, his second title of the year, and dispatched Benoit Paire on Friday to reach another semi.

    Ruud won 6-2 5-7 6-3 in just under two hours and will face Vit Kopriva, a qualifier, who secured his first semi-final appearance thanks to a stunning 6-1 6-0 win over Mikael Ymer.

    At the Croatia Open in Umag, top seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas cruised into the last four with a straightforward 6-2 6-1 defeat of Stefano Travaglia, setting up a meeting with either Filip Krajinovic or Carlos Alcaraz.

    The other semi will be contested between Richard Gasquet and Daniel Altmaier, who produced something of a shock by ousting second seed Dusan Lajovic 6-2 6-4.

    The veteran Frenchman came through against Damir Dzumhur 6-3 7-6 (9-7), clinching the second set at the fourth opportunity.

  • Tokyo Olympics: What to look out for on Saturday Tokyo Olympics: What to look out for on Saturday

    The men's road cycling race is a standout event as dreams will turn into a reality a year later than athletes might have hoped for at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.

    After Naomi Osaka lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony on Friday, Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar will be striving to light up the opening day of competition.

    Pogacar goes for gold less than a week after the Slovenian sensation retained his Tour title in Paris and it will be an incredible achievement if he is on top of the podium again.

    There will also be archery, judo, shooting, taekwondo and weightlifting titles up for grabs on the first day of the Games 12 months after they were due to be contested.

    Stats Perform pick out what to look out for on Saturday.

     

    POGACAR FACES ANOTHER HUGE STAMINA TEST

    Pogacar dominated the Tour de France and is the favourite to follow that up with Olympic gold in what promises to be a thrilling road race.

    His compatriot Primoz Roglic is another strong contender for gold, while Canada's Michael Woods and Spaniard Alejandro Valverde will start the race with high hopes of securing a medal.

    Belgian duo Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert are also expected to be in the mix.

    The 234-kilometre course starts at Musashinonomori Park and finishes at the Fuji International Speedway and features five big ascents, including one on Mount Fuji.

     

    HIGH HOPES FOR JAPANESE JUDOKAS

    There will be no spectators to provide support, but that is not expected to stop Japanese judokas from setting the standard once again.

    The host nation has 39 gold, 19 silver and 26 bronze medals in judo, making it the only sport the country tops the all-time Olympic medal table in.

    Naoki Ogata, technical operations manager with the International Judo Federation, is setting the bar high with his expectations on home soil.

    "No doubt, we want a gold medal in all weight categories," said Ogata.

     

    DJOKOVIC IN HUNT FOR GOLDEN SLAM

    Novak Djokovic has already won three of the four majors this year and an Olympic title would leave him heading to the US Open knowing victory would complete the Golden Slam.

    The world number one from Serbia plays Hugo Dellien of Bolivia when the men's singles starts on Saturday, while Poland's Iga Swiatek is among the standout players in action in the women's singles - which she begins against Mona Barthel.

    There is also women's and men's doubles action on Saturday. 

    The pick of the other events to be getting under way will be artistic gymnastics, badminton, swimming, boxing, hockey and rowing.

  • Tokyo Olympics: Naomi Osaka lights cauldron to mark opening of Games Tokyo Olympics: Naomi Osaka lights cauldron to mark opening of Games

    The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were declared open on Friday, with the global face of Japanese sport, Naomi Osaka, given the honour of lighting the cauldron.

    Osaka carried the torch on its short final leg at the newly-built Japan National Stadium before walking the steps to light the flame and end an opening ceremony that took place with no spectators, save for 1,000 delegates and the athletes from 205 countries.

    The four-time grand slam champion is the face of the Games for the host country, having become the first Japanese player to win a major title at the 2018 US Open.

    She followed that success with victory at the 2019 Australian Open that saw her become the first Asian player to be ranked number one in the world in singles.

    Though she followed up another success in New York by winning again in Australia in 2021, it has been a tumultuous year for Osaka, who withdrew from the French Open after the first round to protect her well-being having caused controversy by electing not to take part in post-match media conferences.

    She subsequently skipped Wimbledon but will be back in action in Tokyo, where she is competing in the Olympics for the first time.

    And, regardless of what happens on the court, it is a Games she will forever remember, with Osaka's lighting of the cauldron the defining image of a unique opening ceremony.

     

     

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.