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This weekend, there’s been more back-and-forth than tennis fans are used to. Naomi Osaka, the highest earning female athlete in the world, dropped out of the French Open yesterday.
The backstory: Osaka announced last week that she wouldn’t be doing any press during the tournament, arguing that press conferences were bad for her and other players’ mental health.
- On Sunday, the head honchos of tennis fined her $15k for skipping a post-match news conference, and raised the possibility of suspending her from future Grand Slam tournaments for violating her “contractual media obligations.”
Other athletes said they respected Osaka’s initial decision to avoid the press, but pointed out that answering questions in front of a hot mic is just part of the job. Tennis legend Billie Jean King said that professional athletes have a responsibility to talk to the media.
Zoom out: In her withdrawal announcement yesterday, Osaka said she needed to take some time away from the court. She acknowledged that she has been struggling with depression since winning the 2018 US Open, when she became the center of attention at 20 years old after defeating Serena Williams.
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