Naomi Osaka attended her first press conference since exiting the French Open in May, and she got very emotional. The 23-year-old tennis superstar was speaking to reporters on Monday to discuss her appearance at the Western & Southern Open in Ohio. Ben Rothenberg, a reporter from Cincinnati, asked her a “fairly aggressively toned” question about why she has a hard time with post-match interviews.
“It was something I needed to do for myself,” Osaka said, per Us Weekly. “More than anything I felt like I holed up in my house for a couple weeks, and I was a little bit embarrassed to go out because I didn’t know if people were looking at me in a different way than they usually did before. But I think the biggest eye-opener was going to the Olympics and having other athletes come up to me and say that they were really glad that I did what I did. So, after all that, I’m proud of what I did and I think that it was something that needed to be done.”
Naomi Osaka was very emotional and shed a few tears during her first press conference following her withdrawal from the French Open. At the conference, she mentioned she received support from other athletes during the Olympics for prioritizing her mental health! 📹: (@espn ) pic.twitter.com/t9ZU8frjhA
— TheShadeRoom (@TheShadeRoom) August 16, 2021
After that response, Osaka began to cry and puller her cap lower on her head. That led to a Women’s Tennis Association moderation stepping in to announce a break in the conference. Osaka did return to answer one more question in English and several others in Japanese. The reason Osaka exited the French Open is her taking heat for announcing she was not going to take part in press conferences due to mental health issues.
“In my opinion (and I want to say that this is just my opinion and not that of every tennis player on tour), the press-conference format itself is out of date and in great need of a refresh,” Osaka wrote in an essay to TIME Magazine in July. “I believe that we can make it better, more interesting and more enjoyable for each side. Less subject vs. object; more peer to peer.” Osaka also noted that she loves the press but does not “love all press conferences.”
She also wrote about her relationship with reporters. “I have always enjoyed an amazing relationship with the media and have given numerous in-depth, one-on-one interviews,” Osaka stated. “Other than those super-stars who have been around much longer than I (Novak, Roger, Rafa, Serena), I’d estimate that I’ve given more time to the press than many other players over recent years.”