PARIS – Naomi Osaka’s return to Roland Garros was triumphant by winning her first round match against Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday in straight sets. But Osaka did not come out of the tournament’s opening day unscathed.
She was later fined $ 15,000 by the Roland Garros tournament referee for refusing to attend a mandatory post-match press conference and was warned that she risked more penalties. severe, including a tournament default, if it continued to fail to meet its media obligations.
This surprisingly severe warning was issued in a press release signed by the leaders of the four Grand Slam tournaments: Gilles Moretton, the new president of the French Tennis Federation; Mike McNulty, the new director of the United States Tennis Association; Jayne Hrdlicka, Head of Tennis Australia; and Ian Hewitt, president of the All England Club, which runs Wimbledon.
The leaders of the Grand Slam events also pointed out that the repeated violations of Osaka could result in “more substantial fines and future suspensions of the Grand Slam.”
Osaka, a four-time major singles champion and one of the sport’s biggest stars, now faces a choice. Ahead of the start of the French Open, she announced that she would be doing “no press” during the tournament, citing the need to preserve her “sanity” by avoiding repetitive and potentially negative questions from journalists.
But if the intention was to limit distractions and regain inner calm, she now faces potentially greater concern in Paris if she continues to refrain from press conferences.
Grand Slam leaders expressed frustration over Osaka’s lack of engagement with tennis officials, explaining in their statement that the Roland-Garros management team had “unsuccessfully tried to talk to him to check his property. -being, understanding the specifics of your problem and what could be done to remedy it on the spot.
Grand Slam leaders said they wrote jointly to Osaka reminding them of their obligations and the consequences they face for breaking the rules. The leaders also stressed the importance of equal treatment.
“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 unfortunately is the case in this situation if a player refuses to spend time. time to participate in media engagements while others honor all of their pledges. “
Leading players such as Andre Agassi, Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic skipped press conferences after losses and were fined. But this is the first time that a top player has made it clear in advance that she has no plans to speak to the media at a Grand Slam tournament.
Osaka, which is based in the United States and represents Japan, has generally had a positive relationship with the media. She is the highest paid female athlete in the world, with the bulk of her income coming from sponsorships. She raised her profile not only by winning major titles, but by championing social justice; she wore masks after games at last year’s U.S. Open which honored black victims of violence, including police violence.