‘Disappointment and anger’: Tennis reacts to Osaka exit


Naomi Osaka’s choice to withdraw from Roland Garros, sparked by a media standoff and psychological well being points, has prompted an outpouring of response throughout tennis and world sport.

Osaka give up the French Open after boycotting her first spherical press convention, as deliberate; which noticed her fined and threatened with disqualification in a joint assertion by the 4 Grand Slams. Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam winner and the world No.2, revealed that she had suffered main melancholy and nervousness points previously few years, partly triggered by media appearances.

Veteran Sports activities Illustrated tennis journalist Jon Wertheim wrote that there was “disappointment and even anger” on the end result, saying that it might be “a watershed second” for the game’s perspective to psychological well being.

“My first thought was one in every of profound empathy for Osaka. My subsequent was of deep disappointment, as a result of it should not have come to this,” he wrote. “Anybody who is aware of Osaka is aware of she is not entitled or a grandstander as she has been portrayed. You had a sense she didn’t realise how shortly this example would escalate.

‘The 4 majors received collectively – one thing they famously do not do typically – and launched a harsh, even menacing and humiliating assertion, primarily threatening to ban her. To make use of a French phrase, just a little nuance would have been good.”

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Wertheim reported that Osaka “was very emotional after struggling a loss in Miami” and famous her struggles on clay courts. He added: “One irony: she had all the time been one thing of a media darling. Her press conferences have been inevitably partaking and completely different, and I feel lots of us within the press room have been shocked to listen to this was the supply of a lot nervousness.”

Serena Williams spoke about Osaka after her Roland Garros first spherical match. The 23-time Grand Slam winner mentioned that press conferences have been tough for her previously.

“But it surely made me stronger. I really feel for Naomi. I want I might give her a hug,” Williams mentioned. “Everyone seems to be completely different and deal with issues in another way. She’s doing the perfect as she will be able to.”

Osaka’s boyfriend, rapper Cordae, wrote on the Instagram submit asserting her withdrawal: “No must apologise to ANYBODY!”

Venus Williams commented: “So happy with you. Handle your self and see you again successful quickly!”

Champions from each tennis and the broader sporting group weighed in, together with Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King and Stephen Curry.

“You should never must decide like this – however so rattling spectacular taking the excessive highway when the powers that be do not defend their very own. Main respect @naomiosaka,” NBA megastar Curry wrote on Twitter.

King posted: “It is extremely courageous that Naomi Osaka has revealed her fact about her wrestle with melancholy. Proper now, the essential factor is that we give her the house and time she wants. We want her nicely.”

Former males’s high 10 participant Mardy Fish mentioned that psychological well being needed to be handled extra severely, referencing his personal struggles.

“Psychological well being is nothing to criticise. Nothing to joke about. Pls take your psychological well being severely. With out my help system, I really consider I’d not be right here right this moment. Right here for you @naomiosaka,” Fish posted on Twitter.

The Guardian sportswriter Jonathan Liew wrote that the press convention itself could also be the issue, slightly than the media. He wrote of an antiquated media ritual that, within the age of social media, might now not declare to be the first conduit between athletes and the general public.

“Exhausting as it’s to consider, Osaka’s perform as an entertainer and company billboard is contingent on her taking part in tennis at an appointed hour, slightly than being pressured to take a seat in a windowless room explaining herself to a roomful of middle-aged males,” Liew wrote.

“The trendy press convention is now not a significant alternate however actually a lowest‑widespread‑denominator transaction: a cynical and sometimes predatory recreation through which the thing is to mine as a lot content material from the topic as attainable. Gossip: good. Anger: good. Feuds: good. Tears: good. Private tragedy: good. In the meantime the younger athlete, typically nonetheless caught up within the feelings of victory or defeat, is anticipated to reply essentially the most intimate questions within the least intimate setting, in entrance of an array of strangers and backed by a chunk of sponsored cardboard.”

The Occasions tennis author Stuart Fraser mirrored on the ironic response of the French Tennis Federation, whose president – Gilles Moretton – learn a brief assertion on Osaka whereas refusing to have interaction with the press.

Different tennis media figures additionally weighed in.

“This whole scenario is a large number. Horrible search for everyone concerned tbh. And horrible for the game,” Jose Morgado, a Portuguese author and commentator, mentioned on Twitter.

New York Occasions contributor Ben Rothenberg wrote on Twitter: “This was a tough saga, however I feel this was the perfect name for Naomi, unlucky as it’s for her and for tennis. If she’s not in a headspace to be beneath pressures of a Slam, neatest thing she will be able to do is take away herself from that high-stress surroundings and deal with her well-being.”

One other tennis author, Hannah Wilks, reacted furiously.

“I might wish to congratulate all 4 Grand Slams on dealing with this the worst, most insensitive method attainable. You actually outdid your self this time, tennis,” she wrote on Twitter.

Veteran French tennis journalist Carole Bouchard defended the media’s place within the Osaka controversy. She identified that Roland Garros press conferences this 12 months weren’t face-to-face however by way of digital conferencing.

“Osaka posting the message that she ought to have posted from the beginning. Completely a pity for her, the match and the media right here. And will have been averted,” she wrote on Twitter.

“I’ve mentioned from begin that had she come and mentioned she was struggling mentally, it’d have been a lot completely different. I nonetheless do not get why it was first offered as if she was beneath media assault and we have been horrible folks. I am going to miss her right here. However perhaps we needed to undergo that.

“Additionally a pity {that a} answer wasn’t simply to stroll again into that press room the place, as she mentioned, the press has all the time been form to her. Tennis would have given her that peace of thoughts right here, there was no want to begin all of this. Everybody misplaced in the long run. Hope to see her again in Wimbledon.

“Lastly, I am blissful the Tour maintain agency by itself guidelines. Btw for individuals who do not know: there is no media within the Roland-Garros press rooms this 12 months once more attributable to covid. We’re all on digital mode, even these of us who’re on website.”

Australian tennis commentator and former participant Rennae Stubbs had one phrase: “WOW.”

Former participant turned coach and commentator Brad Gilbert mentioned that he hoped Osaka would return for Wimbledon in a month’s time.

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