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Naomi Osaka fined $ 15,000 by tennis officials after refusing press on mental health grounds

Tennis champion Naomi Osaka was fined $ 15,000 after announcing she would not do press interviews during the French Open, saying she put her mental health first.

The fine was announced on Sunday in a joint statement by officials of the organizations that organize the Grand Slam tournaments – the US Tennis Association, the French Tennis Federation, the All England Lawn Tennis Club and Tennis Australia.

Osaka announced via its social networks Wednesday that she would not participate in the press and at Roland Garros because she “often felt that people had no respect for the mental health of athletes”.

Japan’s Naomi Osaka looks up after winning her final match against American Jennifer Brady on February 20, 2021 in Melbourne.Kelly Defina / Reuters File

French tournament officials asked her “to reconsider her position and tried unsuccessfully to speak with her to verify her well-being,” but were unable to engage with Osaka, according to the joint statement.

“Naomi Osaka has chosen today not to honor her contractual obligations to the media. The Roland-Garros referee therefore imposed a fine of 15,000 dollars on him, in accordance with article III H. of the code of conduct, ”the press release said. “The mental health of the players participating in our tournaments and on the circuits is of the utmost importance to Grand Slam tournaments.”

All four organizations said they have devoted “significant” resources to player well-being, but “to continue to improve we need player engagement to understand their perspective and find ways to improve. their experiences. ”

Osaka risks more fines if it continues to ignore its “obligations” through media appearances.

“We want to stress that rules are in place to ensure that all players are treated exactly the same, regardless of their stature, beliefs or achievements,” the statement said. “As a sport, there is nothing more important than making sure that no player has an unfair advantage over another, which is unfortunately the case in this situation if a player refuses to devote time to participate in media commitments while others honor all of their commitments. “

Osaka, which is ranked No.2 in the world, said on Wednesday that it expected to be fined and hoped the proceeds would go to a mental health charity. She also said that it was not a personal vendetta against the tournament, but that she decided not to submit to repeated questions that made her doubtful.

“If organizations think they can just keep saying, ‘Make the press or you’re going to be fined’ and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes who are the centerpiece of their business, then I have to laugh. . “

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