News ‘We really tried’: French Open defends ‘pragmatic’ approach to Naomi Osaka

‘We really tried’: French Open defends ‘pragmatic’ approach to Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka revealed she struggles with depression as she withdrew from the French Open. Photo: Getty
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French Open organisers have again defended their handling of Naomi Osaka’s media boycott, but accepted they need to do better on mental health issues.

The Japanese ace announced in the build-up to the major at Roland Garros that she would not attend mandatory post-match press conferences for players.

She explained that being questioned by journalists had a negative impact on her mental well-being.

The four-time slam winner stuck to her stance and did not face the media after her opening win, leading to a $US15,000 ($AU 19,500) fine.

There was also a strongly-worded letter from the board of the four slam tournaments warning her of possible expulsion from the French Open and future majors if she failed to meet her media obligations.

 

Osaka ended the stand-off with the French Tennis Federation (FFT) by withdrawing from the claycourt major after winning her first round match, revealing she had been battling depression for almost three years.

“The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that,” the world No.2 wrote on Twitter at the time.

FFT director general Amelie Oudea-Castera said the organisers tried to reach out to Osaka several times without success and the statement from the four majors was to just remind her of the consequences of her decision.

“I think we really cared for her,” Ms Oudea-Castera said.

“We really tried to engage.

“We were pragmatic in the way we handled the progressive approach to sanctions.

“It was a very sensitive and difficult situation, but we believe we really treated that with respect, with care,” she said.

But despite defending their approach, Ms Oudea-Castera admitted the federation could “do better” on mental health.

“This is part of the roadmap we have with the other slams. We will take the initiative on the matter together,” she said.

The withdrawal of the world No.2, however, subjected the four slams to criticism from fans and pundits for their handling of the matter.

FFT president Gilles Moretton said they “had to do it.”

“We need to have equity between all the players … I think we did it the right way,” Mr Moretton said.

-AAP