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Naomi Osaka won't speak to the press at French Open, citing mental health

The tennis star hopes the fines she will incur for skipping press conferences at the French Open will be donated to a mental health charity.
/ Source: TODAY

Tennis star Naomi Osaka has announced that she will not be participating in any press conferences at the upcoming French Open because of the effects on her mental health.

The four-time Grand Slam winner wrote in a message on Instagram Wednesday that she expects to be fined for skipping the press events and hopes the money will go to a mental health charity.

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka said she will not be doing press conferences at the French Open, citing the effects of them on athletes' mental health. Tim Clayton / Corbis via Getty Images

"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."

Osaka, 23, wrote that she's seen athletes break down at press conferences and she believes "the whole situation is kicking a person while they're down and I don't understand the reasoning behind it."

She said the decision is "nothing personal" against any journalists.

"However, 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 wrote.

The second-ranked player in the world concluded by saying she hopes the "considerable amount" that she will be fined will go toward a mental health charity.

Osaka also included an old clip of 14-year-old tennis star Venus Williams being pressed by a journalist before her father, Richard Williams, intervened to tell him to "leave that alone."

Williams, 40, who is now a seven-time Grand Slam winner, commented on Osaka's post.

"Girl, do you," she said. "Your life is yours to live!"

French Open Tennis. Roland-Garros 2021.
Osaka said she hopes the fine she incurs for skipping the press conferences will be donated to a mental health charity. Tim Clayton / Corbis via Getty Images

Golfer Michelle Wie West, 31, a former child prodigy herself who faced heavy media scrutiny at a young age, commented "YESSSSSS" in agreement with Osaka's post.

Osaka also includes a video clip of the 2015 press conference at the Super Bowl's media day featuring former Seattle Seahawks star running back Marshawn Lynch repeatedly answering "I'm here so I won't get fined" to every question.

The tennis star also broke with a press tradition in 2019 when she had Coco Gauff jointly conduct the post-match interview with her after Osaka defeated Gauff in the third round of the U.S. Open. The interview is usually just reserved for the winner.

“Keep your head up, you’ve got so much to be proud of,” Osaka later tweeted to Gauff. "Warrior."