Tennis Star Faces Expulsion Over Media Stance

Naomi Osaka refuses interviews after French Open matches, is fined
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2021 4:00 PM CDT
Osaka Faces Fines, Even Expulsion After Silence
Japan's Naomi Osaka returns the ball to Romania's Patricia Maria Tig during their first-round match of the French Open Sunday in Paris.   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Naomi Osaka kept her word, and now she’s being fined. Osaka, ranked No. 2 in tennis worldwide, recently announced she wouldn’t speak to the media after matches, and French Open officials have now attached a $15,000 price tag to that. Since she’s the highest paid female athlete of all time, she might be taking that in stride. But now she is being warned she could be expelled from the tournament, the BBC reports. Osaka, representing Japan, said she was declining interviews to protect her mental health. After she refused to speak to the press after winning her match Sunday against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania, she was hit with the fine. She was also hit with the promise that the fines will get bigger and she could be suspended from future Grand Slams.

When Sports Illustrated named Osaka sportsperson of the year for 2020, they noted her activism, and also her preference to stay out of the spotlight. Officials say they reached out to learn the nature of her concerns, but were unsuccessful, NBC News reports. Tennis organizations say they want to support athletes' well-being, but also need to make sure the rules are the same for everyone. A joint statement from the US Tennis Association, the French Tennis Federation, All England Lawn Tennis Club, and Tennis Australia read, “As a sport there is nothing more important than ensuring no player has an unfair advantage over another.”
(More Naomi Osaka stories.)

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