“Right Decision to Withdraw”: FFT Director Regrets Not Talking to Naomi Osaka During French Open 2021 Fiasco

Published 06/03/2021, 4:53 AM EDT
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 30, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka in action during her first round match against Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig REUTERS/Christian Hartmann


A top official of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), which is hosting the French Open, has opened up on the unending saga involving the withdrawal of women’s World No. 2 Naomi Osaka.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The announcement on Twitter, which left legions of fans of the Japanese star in utter shock and dismay, is seen as the fallout of the tournament organizers threatening her with expulsion in the wake of her decision not to attend press conferences during the tournament.

Top FFT official says the organizers are sorry for Naomi Osaka

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Now, while speaking to CNN news anchor Richard Quest, the director-general of the FFT, Amelie Oudea-Castera said that it was a “difficult situation” for the organizers brought upon by Osaka’s press boycott and they did what they had to as per the established tournament codes.

Tennis -WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 12, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka looks dejected after losing her second round match against Jessica Pegula of U.S. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

However, she added that the organizers are “sorry” for the reigning Australian Open champion and are appreciative of the reasons she gave for not doing press.

Castera said that given what was going on inside Osaka’s mind, it was, perhaps, the right decision to withdraw from the tournament.

“I think she was right to explain what happens in her mind and she had her own words explain that, which leads us to think that she probably made the right decision to withdraw from the tournament given the suffering she’s in,” Castera said.

Tried to engage with Osaka before making public statement: Top FFT official

Castera said that the toughest part in the entire episode was that the organizers failed to establish a direct line of conversation with Osaka while she was experiencing a conflict of emotions which eventually forced to take her name out of the draw.

“We didn’t manage to get directly in contact with Naomi. We tried to do that, we went to her practice court, we tried to engage with her several times, we even wrote a letter to her privately before we made the public statement from the Slams. So we wanted to have that dialogue and for us, it was not really possible to understand how she was, whether she was defending a cause or if she was personally affected,” Castera said.

The top tournament official added that what she regrets the most is the inability to get “into a dialogue with her”.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

“If a player has such difficulties, together with the tools and spirit of the Grand Slams is always to find pragmatic ways to handle those difficult situations,” Castera said, asserting that players’ holistic wellbeing is of the utmost importance for the organizers.

Castera added that the tournament organizers wish Osaka the “best possible recovery” and would gladly welcome her back to the Roland-Garros next year.

However, she was firm that as comes with hosting a Grand Slam event, the organizers had to stand up for certain rules which they did. “As Grand Slams, we also had to remind everyone of the rules and we really wanted Naomi to be very clear on the consequences she was exposing herself to,” the director-general, FFT, said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Osaka had won her opening-round fixture in straight sets before announcing her surprise pullout.

DIVE DEEPER

“Way to Clear My Mind”: Naomi Osaka Opens Up on Balancing Career and Business

6 months ago

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

ADVERTISEMENT

Priyabrata Chowdhury

1101 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT