Sports French Open defends "pragmatic" stance in Osaka dealings
The Latest: Osaka wins opener at French and speaks briefly
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the French Open (all times local): ___ 1:15 p.m. Naomi Osaka overcame a slew of mistakes to win in her return to the French Open and then did something no one knew whether she would: She spoke briefly to the crowd. The No. 2-ranked Osaka has said she won't participate in news conferences at Roland Garros — and she did not do a pre-tournament session with the media. After beating Patricia Maria Tig 6-4, 7-6 (4) despite 35 unforced errors at Court Philippe Chatrier, Osaka spoke into a microphone and briefly exchanged pleasantries with Fabrice Santoro, a former pro tennis player who conducts post-match interviews at the French Open so fans can hear something fro
PARIS (AP) — French Open organizers said they took a “pragmatic” approach in their dealings with four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka earlier in the tournament, insisting they tried to engage with her several times before she decided to withdraw from the clay-court Grand Slam.
Osaka withdrew from Roland Garros after she was fined $15,000 for skipping the postmatch news conference after her first-round victory at the French Open. She said she experienced anxiety before speaking to the media and revealed she suffered bouts of depression.
“We really tried to engage with Naomi several times, several ways, including on the practice courts, including in writing,” said Amelie Oudea-Castera, the French tennis federation director general.
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Coco Gauff has been improving since surprising at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open two years ago, and could make a deep run in Paris starting Tuesday.It was, in many ways, a dangerous time for Gauff’s career. Tennis’ penchant for heaping pressure on young phenoms before they’re ready to handle it either emotionally or meet those expectations on the court is an all-too-familiar story.
Oudea-Castera said organizers had also written to Osaka before all four Grand Slam tournaments threatened her with possible extra punishment — including disqualification or suspension — to explain to her the possible consequences of her intention of not speaking with journalists.
“So we had to remind the rules of the game," Oudea-Castera said during the tournament’s closing press conference. “There is a specific book explaining that. And when you regularly default your obligations without giving specific explanations in particular, you expose yourself to a default or more permanent sanction. We wanted her to know because it was a way to protect her to explain that to her.”
Tennis players are required to attend news conferences if requested to do so. They face a maximum fine of $20,000 if they violate the rules.
4-time Slam champ Osaka out of French Open, cites anxiety
Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open on Monday and wrote on Twitter that she would be taking a break from competition, a dramatic turn of events for a four-time Grand Slam champion who said she experiences “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to the media and revealed she has “suffered long bouts of depression.” Osaka’s agent, Stuart Duguid, confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that the world’s No. 2-ranked tennis player was pulling out before her second-round match at the clay-court tournament in Paris. The stunning move came a day after Osaka, a 23-year-old who was born in Japan and moved with her family to the U.S.
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“On the $15,000 fine, you noticed we did not want to put that fine at the maximum,” said Oudea-Castera. “On purpose we only wanted to be at 15 because we wanted to send a message that we wouldn’t go to a default right away. We wanted to have a progressive escalation should she continue not to commit to her obligations.”
Oudea-Castera however admitted that organizers “can do better" in dealing with players' mental health issues, adding that all four Grand Slams will “take the initiative on the matter together."
French Open organizers said they “took care” of Osaka since her withdrawal and French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton said former French player Nathalie Dechy received a positive update from her.
“She’s in Florida, having rest with the family. That’s the most important thing for us,” Moretton said.
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Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press
Scott Stinson: In defence of the sports press conference .
It has been a rough week for the humble press conference. First it became the victim, when tennis star Naomi Osaka announced on social media that she would not submit to the post-match question-and-answer sessions while at the French Open. Then it became the whiny bully, when tournament officials in Paris, joined by representatives from the other tennis Grand Slams, responded to Osaka’s first missed press session with a wildly over-the-top statement that threatened not just escalating fines, but possible disqualification and — the real kick in the pants — suspension from future events if she kept up the poor form.