Naomi Osaka was left in tears at her first press conference since the French Open, when she chose not to attend media engagements for the sake of her mental health.
The talented young tennis player and four-time grand slam champion broke down at her first press conference in almost three months.
During the press conference, a male reporter from the Cincinnati Enquirer accused her of only using the media when it suits her. The accusation comes after the tennis pro pulled out of the French Open to focus on 'wellbeing'.
The reporter said, "You’re not crazy about dealing with us, especially in this format, yet you have a lot of outside interests that are served by having a media platform." Before adding, "I guess my question is, how do you balance the two, and also do you have anything you’d like to share with us about what you did say to Simone Biles?"
She returns to press ahead of @CincyTennis. @naomiosaka | #CincyTennis pic.twitter.com/445cxg6GUtAugust 16, 2021
NY Times journalist Ben Rothenberg described the question as being in an 'aggressive tone' in a tweet. Despite the person moderating the press conference saying she didn't have to answer it—Naomi chose to address the reporter's inquiry.
She responded, “When you say I’m not crazy about dealing with you guys, what does that refer to?”
The world's highest paid female athlete carried on answering and said, “I would say the occasion, when to do the press conferences is what I feel is the most difficult,” before pausing. Naomi then added, “I’m actually very interested in that point of view.
“For me I feel this is something I can’t really speak for everybody, I can only speak for myself. But ever since I was younger, I’ve had a lot of media interest on me, and I think it’s because of my background as well as how I play."
Taking her time to answer the question, in a calm and considered way, she explained, "Because in the first place I’m a tennis player, which is why a lot of people are interested in me. So I would say in that regard I’m quite different to a lot of people, and I can’t really help that there are some things I tweet or say that create a lot of news articles or things like that.
“But I would also say, I’m not really sure how to balance it too, I’m figuring it out at the same time as you are, I would say.”
It was during the next question from a different reporter, which was about her training practices and her donating to help those affected by the recent earthquake in Haiti, which is where her father is from and her parents own a school, that the star broke down.
Really hurts to see all the devastation that’s going on in Haiti, and I feel like we really can’t catch a break. I’m about to play a tournament this week and I’ll give all the prize money to relief efforts for Haiti. I know our ancestors blood is strong we’ll keep rising 🇭🇹❤️🙏🏾August 14, 2021
Initially, she pulled her hat down and sat crying in front of the cameras, before leaving the conference for a brief moment and returning to answer the question.
Understandably, not only those in her immediate circle but also others attending the conference and fans across the globe condemned the male reporter's behavior.
In a written statement her agent Stuart Duguid said, "The bully at the Cincinnati Enquirer is the epitome of why player/media relations are so fraught right now. Everyone on that Zoom will agree that his tone was all wrong and his sole purpose was to intimidate. Really appalling behavior." Adding, “And this insinuation that Naomi owes her off-court success to the media is a myth – don’t be so self-indulgent.”
Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.
She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.
Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.
Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.
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