Naomi Osaka risks being expelled from Roland Garros if she continues to refuse to speak to the media.
The four-time Grand Slam champion announced on social media ahead of the tournament that she would not be doing any press at Roland Garros, citing mental health reasons.
It didn’t go well with the tournament and drew an unusually hard-hitting joint statement from the Four Grand Slams, which threatened Osaka with stiff penalties if it did not reconsider its position.
The statement said: “We have informed Naomi Osaka that if she continued to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would face possible consequences for breaching the code of conduct.
“As might be expected, repeated violations result in tougher penalties, including failure to participate in the tournament and the initiation of a major infraction investigation which could result in more substantial fines and future grand slam suspensions. . “
Osaka was fined US $ 15,000 (approximately 10,000) for refusing to honor its media commitments after a 6-4 7-6 (4) first-round victory over Patricia Maria Tig.
The press release continued: “The Roland Garros teams asked him to reconsider his position and tried in vain to speak to him to check his well-being, to understand the specifics of his problem and what could be done to remedy it on the spot.
“The mental health of the players participating in our tournaments and on the tours is of the utmost importance to the Grand Slam. We have, individually and collectively, significant resources dedicated to the well-being of players.
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“To continue to improve, however, we need the engagement of players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experiences.
“A central element of the grand slam rules is the players’ responsibility to engage with the media, regardless of the outcome of their match, a responsibility that the players take on for the good of the sport, the fans and for themselves. .
“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 spend time. time to participate in media engagements while others honor all of their pledges.
“Finally, all Grand Slam tournaments remain committed to continuously reviewing and discussing opportunities, with tours and players, to improve every aspect of the player experience, including with the media.
“But we believe that this is only ever achieved through respectful and constructive discussions.”
In an apparent Twitter response on Sunday night, the Japanese star wrote: “Anger is a lack of understanding. change makes people uncomfortable.
Despite his media snub, Osaka took part in a short and rather awkward interview on the pitch for the few hundred fans allowed to enter the Philippe Chatrier court after his victory over Romanian Tig.
“I’m very happy I won,” said the 23-year-old, who skipped the tournament last year after winning her third Grand Slam title at the US Open.
“It’s a very nice field. I’ve only played two matches here, one before the rooftop and one now. I hope I will continue.
Regarding her clay-court movement, Osaka, who then meets another Romanian in Ana Bogdan, said: “I would say it’s a work in progress. I hope the more I play, the better I get.
Last year’s semi-finalist Petra Kvitova saved a match point in the second set against Greet Minnen before passing 6-7 (3) 7-6 (5) 6-1.
Angelique Kerber has won titles in the other three slams, but her chances of completing the set appear remote after a third straight loss in the first round.
The German, a two-time quarter-finalist in Paris, was beaten 6-2 6-4 by a very fit player in qualifying Anhelina Kalinina, who has now won her last 14 matches.
Third seed Aryna Sabalenka is one of the fittest players in the draw and defeated former Top 20 player Ana Konjuh, who is recovering from serious elbow problems, 6-4 6 -3.
A convincing battle of former slam champions was won 6-4 2-6 6-3 by Victoria Azarenka against Svetlana Kuznetsova, who won the title in Paris in 2009.
American Danielle Collins, who is back on tour after undergoing surgery for endometriosis, fought for a 6-2 4-6 6-4 victory over China’s Wang Xiyu.
Russian Elena Vesnina, meanwhile, beat Olga Govortsova 6-1 6-0 in her first singles match in a grand slam since her maternity leave in 2018.