Tennis star Naomi Osaka has been threatened with disqualification from the French Open after refusing to take part in media appearances.
The world number two was fined €12,300 following her first-round victory over Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday, because she didn’t appear at the scheduled press conference.
Osaka had said on Wednesday she wouldn’t be taking part in press conferences at Roland Garros to protect her mental health.
Players are required to attend media appearances if requested to do so, as per their contractual obligations.
A statement from the French Open, co-signed by the organisers of all four Grand Slam tournaments warned “should she continue to breach her media obligations during the tournament, she will be subject to further sanctions as set out in the Code of Conduct,” which could include “suspensions from future Grand Slams”.
Osaka responded on social media.
On Wednesday she said on social media: “I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health, and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.”
“I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me,” she added.
The French Open organisers said they had tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with her to discuss the issue, and asked her to “reconsider her position”.
The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open said in a statement on Sunday that they were willing to help players in psychological distress, particularly as the pandemic has made their lives more difficult.
“The psychological balance of the players who take part in our tournaments and who evolve on the various circuits is of the utmost importance for the Grand Slams. We mobilise, individually and collectively, significant resources for their well-being,” they said.
“However, in order to continue to improve in this area, we need their cooperation in understanding their expectations and improving their experience.”
Osaka is due to face Ana Bogdan in the second round on Wednesday.