“Never Had Any Issue Doing It”: Ashleigh Barty Weighs In on Naomi Osaka’s Row at French Open 2021

Published 05/28/2021, 10:21 AM EDT
PARIS, FRANCE May 26. Naomi Osaka of Japan and Ashleigh Barty of Australia after practicing on Court Philippe-Chatrier during a practice match in preparation for the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on May 2pm 6th 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)


World No.2 Naomi Osaka was embroiled in a controversy after she refused to attend her press conference at French Open 2021. This decision caused a stir in the tennis world, with many players sharing their thoughts over it. World No.1 Ashleigh Barty attended her press conference and gave her thoughts on the issue.

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Naomi Osaka of Japan speaking to the media at the Australian Open. Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Osaka had withdrawn from her press conference on the grounds of mental health issues. Speaking on the issue, Barty understood that press conferences are another duty of a tennis player, but she also iterated that she cannot comment on Osaka as she didn’t know what the World No.2 was going through.

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“Press is part of the job. We know what we’re signing for. Never had any issue doing it. But I can’t comment on what she (Naomi) might be going through.”

Moreover, the World No.1 is raring to start her Roland Garros soon. Ash Barty had recently suffered an arm injury during the Italian Open, which caused her to withdraw mid-match against Coco Gauff in the quarterfinals. Barty has even forgotten her 2019 triumph and mentioned that in 2021 ‘it’s a clean state’.

Ashleigh Barty celebrates winning her quarter final match against Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Earlier Osaka had announced that she won’t be taking part in the pre-tournament press conference. And according to the Grand Slam handbook, she will face a fine of $20,000. She mentioned that press conferences affect her mental space and hence she wanted to concentrate on her tennis.

Naomi Osaka clarifies her stance

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Seeing it turn into a controversy, Osaka later wrote a letter to the tournament director of French Open 2021. Osaka clarified her stance on the issue. She iterated that she was against the archaic system of forcing the players to do the press conferences. She wants a change to the system and will talk to the governing bodies of the sport regarding this after the tournament.

WTA has also given its stance and valued mental health highly. But they have also called for a dialogue with players as it’s the responsibility of the players to talk to the media and fans about their tournament. Let’s see how Osaka handles all the attention on-court and off-court.

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Bhavishya Mittal

1088 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.

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