Naomi Osaka, admitting depression, double-faulted by stiffing the press

Naomi Osaka unleashed a fiery serve aimed instantly at the press.

But what got here again to her was a flurry of criticism that ultimately knocked her out of a significant match and, for the time being, the tennis sport itself.

The 23-year-old famous person revealed that she suffers from melancholy, which sparked a debate about what a magically profitable skilled athlete owes the media and whether or not journalists contribute to an unhealthy ambiance.

When eradicated from the French Open – after being fined $ 15,000 for blowing off an preliminary press convention – Osaka stated, “The reality is, I’ve had lengthy bouts of melancholy since the 2018 US Open and I’ve had a extremely onerous time to take care of it. “

I used to be impolite to Osaka when she first introduced that she would skip the necessary press dates in France due to her “psychological well being”. It appeared like such a snowflake motion. How can an athlete be powerful sufficient to win large championships and nonetheless be intimidated by a room stuffed with reporters?

After all, the lady earned greater than $ 50 million in promoting income final yr, making her the highest-paid athlete. Doesn’t she perceive that the media have made her a worldwide superstar – with principally constructive protection, by the method – and a high-bankable star?

Osaka stated in her publish to 2.three million Instagram followers that “the tennis press has all the time been variety to me” and “I particularly wish to apologize to all the cool journalists I’ll have damage.”

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But her admission of melancholy made me rethink the scenario. It is a reminder that even fame and fortune could not essentially deliver luck. And that this self-proclaimed introvert’s choice to keep away from the press was simply a sign that she is grappling with the pressures of being a lone fighter in a extremely aggressive sport. So she takes a break from tennis.

After her victory in the first spherical on Sunday, Osaka answered questions from an interviewer on the subject and from the Japanese broadcaster Wowow, with which she is underneath contract. Obviously, she will refine these conditions. What made her a star was the grace with which she dealt with Serena Williams’ anger and punishments, which introduced her first main win three years in the past at the New York Open.

She hit tennis officers onerous, not simply with the fines, a rounding error for Naomi. She refused to take care of them, resulting in threats that she could possibly be banned from the French Open and banned from different Grand Slam tournaments.

Osaka has obtained reward from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kamala Harris’ niece Meena, amongst others, and isn’t any stranger to politics. Last yr she retired from a semi-final sport to protest the Wisconsin police capturing of Jacob Blake. She stated, “As a black lady, I really feel that there are way more essential issues,” and wore masks with the names of the victims. The Western and Southern Open interrupted the sport briefly.

Mari Osaka, Naomi’s sister, stated her sibling performed poorly on sandy surfaces like the French Open and that she wished to “block every thing” by not chatting with reporters who would inevitably query her on the matter.

Tennis gamers are divided. Serena Williams stated coping with the media made her stronger. “I sympathize with Naomi,” she stated. “Not everyone seems to be the similar. I’m fats. Other individuals are skinny.”

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Rafael Nadal informed reporters that “with out the press, with out the individuals who usually journey,” who “write the information and achievements we now have round the world, we most likely will not be the athletes we’re at this time.” You would not have the recognition we now have round the world and we can’t be that fashionable, will we?

And that’s matchpoint. Osaka says she by no means desires to distract and “my message may have been clearer”. I pay tribute to her for talking on a very private topic. However, if you happen to select to be knowledgeable athlete, coping with the off-court stress is a part of the sport.

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