Naomi Osaka’s sister Mari has spectacularly backtracked after attempting to provide more context around the tennis star’s decision to boycott press conferences during the French Open, admitting she “f***ed up”.
Before play got underway at Roland Garros Osaka said she wouldn’t be attending any pre or post-match media commitments, writing in a statement: “I have often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.
Watch Tennis Live with beIN SPORTS on Kayo. Live Coverage of ATP + WTA Tour Tournaments including Every Finals Match. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
“We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I am not going to subject myself to people who doubt me.”
Osaka was fined nearly $AUD20,000 for skipping the press conference after her round one win over Patricia Maria Tig in Paris and the four grand slam tournaments released a statement on Monday morning (AEDT) threatening to disqualify her if the Japanese player continued to flout the rules.
Ash Barty and Rafael Nadal weighed in on the debate, saying press conferences are part of the job.
Mari Osaka, who also played professional tennis before retiring earlier this year, explained her sister’s boycott in greater detail in a lengthy post on online forum Reddit Tennis. Mari said Naomi “sucks at explaining her actions most of the time” and wanted to clarify why she’s boycotting the media.
Mari said the focus on Naomi’s poor results on clay were a primary reason for not wanting to talk to the press.
‘I’m sorry Naomi’: Sister stuffs up
However, after uploading her original post, it wasn’t long before Mari deleted it and tried to walk back. The clarification sparked a backlash from people questioning why Osaka was using “mental health” to describe not wanting her on-court efforts to be scrutinised.
“OK so I f***ed up. My words are coming across so horribly to a lot of people who think taking care of mental health is strategic,” Mari wrote.
“I didn’t emphasise the fact that Naomi is dealing with a ton of s**t and honestly fighting for the care of mental health in my post so now a lot of people are taking it as ‘She doesn’t want to hear criticism’.
“I’m sorry Naomi I probably made the situation worse.”
Mari: Hurtful family comment behind boycott
In her first online post, Mari revealed a comment from a family member hit close to the bone and explained why Naomi wasn’t interested in fulfilling her media commitments in Paris.
“Naomi mentioned to me before the tournament that a family member had come up to her and remarked that she’s bad at clay. At every press conference she’s told she’s has a bad record on clay,” Mari wrote. “When she lost in Rome r1 she was not OK mentally. Her confidence was completely shattered and I think that everyone’s remarks and opinions have gotten to her head and she herself believed that she was bad on clay.
“This isn’t true and she knows that in order to do well and have a shot at winning Roland Garros she will have to believe that she can. That’s the first step any athlete needs to do, believe in themselves.
“So her solution was to block everything out. No talking to people who is (sic) going to put doubt in her mind. She’s protecting her mind hence why it’s called mental health.
“So many people are picky on this term thinking you need to have depression or have some sort of disorder to be able to use the term mental health.
“I don’t know what she is going to do in the future when the tournament pushes back and threatens to default her but I fully support my sister’s actions because she’s just trying to do what’s best for her. Tennis players don’t get paid to do press conferences. They only get paid when they win matches.”
Osaka has twice won the US Open and Australian Open on hard courts, but is yet to get past the third round at Roland Garros. Before the grand slam started, she was 1-2 in this clay court season.
Naomi mentioned in her original statement how she had seen clips of players breaking down in their press conference after a loss, and she believes it’s unfair on athletes in that emotional state to be forced to front reporters.
Mari spoke of a similar, personal experience and also addressed the debate around Naomi boycotting press conferences because she can afford to, while others can’t.
“There is the argument that she can afford to skip while others can’t. What if they want to and she’s setting precedent so that they can in the future if wanted?” Mari wrote.
“When I lost my one WTA match where I had to do a press conference afterwards I broke down in the room unfortunately and then saw headlines after of me, crying.
“It was embarrassing and it’s forced on players. Some can take it and some struggle with it.”
Mari Osaka (right) is standing behind her sister.Source:Getty Images
French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton last week described Osaka’s vow of silence as “a phenomenal error”.
“What is happening is not, in my opinion, acceptable. It is tennis we want to promote,” he said.
Source: Read Full Article