Naomi Osaka Is The Highest Paid Female Athlete Ever, Topping Serena Williams
February 20, 2021
May 31, 2021
Champion tennis player Naomi Osaka was fined $15,000 and threatened with suspension from future Grand Slam tournaments after she followed through on her promise last week to boycott press conferences during the French Open over concerns for her mental health.
Osaka, currently ranked No. 2 in the world, beat out Romanian player Patricia Maria Țig in straight sets Sunday morning in Paris and skipped out on the traditional post-match presser after saying last week facing media questions can be harmful for athletes’ mental health.
Roland Garros, the organizer of the French Open, announced shortly after that Osaka would be fined $15,000 for not attending the mandatory press conference.
Organizers of the four Grand Slams—the world’s most prestigious tennis tournaments—said in a joint statement further violations of her media obligations by Osaka could lead to more fines, being pulled from the Paris tournament and even future Grand Slam tournament suspensions.
“A core element of the Grand Slam regulations is the responsibility of the players to engage with the media, whatever the result of their match, a responsibility which players take for the benefit of the sport, the fans and for themselves,” the tennis organizations said in a statement Sunday.
Osaka said last week she would not partake in press conferences during the French Open in a bid to help preserve her mental health and would just pay any fines she receives, saying journalists ask athletes questions “that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”
Osaka’s next match, against Romania’s Ana Bogdan, is slated for Tuesday.
$37 million. That’s how much money Osaka raked in between May 2019 and May 2020, according to a Forbes estimate, making her the highest-paid female athlete of all time in a single year.
Osaka’s fellow professional tennis players are split on the 23-year-old’s bold statements about press obligations. Ashleigh Barty, currently ranked the top female player in the world, said last week “press is kind of part of the job,” in response to questions about Osaka’s boycott. “We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players,” Barty, the 2019 French Open champion, said. “But I can’t comment on (Osaka) personally for what she’s going through.”
“If the organizations think they can just keep saying, ‘Do press or you’re gonna be fined,’ and continue to ignore the mental health of their athletes that are the centerpiece of their [organizations] then I just gotta laugh,” Osaka said last week.
Osaka in a statement last week said the press conferences professional athletes are required to take part in support her belief that “people have no regard for athletes’ mental health,” citing examples of athletes breaking down in a press room after a tough loss. “I believe that the whole situation is kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it,” Osaka said. The four Grand Slam organizers said in their Sunday statement they are committed to improving mental health resources for their players.
Image Source: Getty Images
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