Osaka Gives Tennis, Journalists an Opportunity

Star's stance could cause a reckoning, analysts say
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2021 5:05 PM CDT
Osaka Gives Tennis, Journalists an Opportunity
Naomi Osaka reacts during her match against Maria Sakkari of Greece in the Miami Open in March.   (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

By announcing she'll skip Wimbledon after already withdrawing from the French Open—even as tennis officials say they're working on the issues she raised—Naomi Osaka is making a couple of things clear. She's serious about putting her mental health first, whether the tennis bosses like it or not, writes Shannon Melero in Jezebel. Instead of preparing for Wimbledon, and playing next week in the Women's Tennis Associations grass tournament in Berlin, Osaka will take time to be with friends and family, her agent said. Wimbledon officials said they'd consulted Osaka and other players about their media obligations, but any changes being made apparently weren't enough to put the four-time Grand Slam champion back on the court. And there will be changes, Osaka's resolve demonstrates. "What fans and media are witnessing is a much-needed shift in the tennis world where the final say comes from players and not from sponsors or tournament organizers," Melero writes. You can read the full piece here.

Change should reach tennis journalism as well as the sport's establishment, Alex Abad-Santos writes in Vox. Tennis is an insulated, affluent, largely white world, and journalists often have helped keep it that way. At times, Abad-Santos writes, "the press has played into or amplified blatant homophobic, sexist, and racist attacks without scrutiny and without regard for the mental health of the players." He gives examples. Venus and Serena Williams had an "unorthodox" tennis upbringing, a popular narrative went, because their father taught them in Compton instead placing them in the sport's establishments for training. One reporter's question to Coco Gauff went like this: "You are often compared to the Williams sisters. Maybe it's because you're Black. But I guess it's because you're talented and maybe American too." Abad-Santos welcomes the possibilities. "Osaka has given the sport of tennis and the journalists who cover it an opportunity to learn an important lesson from this moment," he writes. You can read the full piece here. (More Naomi Osaka stories.)

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