“I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”

It’s not unusual for pro athletes to go through periodic slumps, and tennis star Naomi Osaka seems to be in a bit of one right now. After winning the Australian Open in February, she stumbled in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open in March, and earlier this month exited the Italian Open with a first-round loss.

She’ll be looking to bounce back at the French Open, which starts on Sunday. However, what she won’t be doing is talking with reporters. The 23-year-old Osaka made her stance known in a statement, posted to her social media accounts, that says:

“I’m not going to do any press during Roland Garros [the Paris facility that hosts the French Open]. I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes [sic] mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.”

Osaka goes on to stress that she doesn’t have a blanket negative view of the sports media, offering the concession that “a couple journalists have interviewed me since I was young so I have a friendly relationship with most of them.” However, she lists specific grievances such as how she feels athletes are “sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds,” and also describes the way athletes are treated at press conferences following a loss as tantamount to “kicking a person while they’re down.”

The concern about threats to confidence and potential post-loss questions might seem surprising coming from one of the world’s top-ranked players, but it’s worth noting that the French Open is played on clay, the surface Osaka has found the least success competing on, and that in four entries to the event, she’s yet to make it past the third round.

▼ Osaka’s statement

“I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me” Osaka declares. The tournament’s organizers have yet to disclose what, if any, repercussions she’ll face for refusing media appearances, but she herself seems unconcerned about potential economic penalties, and seems to actually welcome them. “I hope the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity,” Osaka says, making it clear that she’s not in the mood to talk with reporters about tennis or any other topics.

Source: Twitter/@naomiosaka via IT Media, Roland-Garros
Top image: Wikipedia/Paris 16
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