“You’re Making the Millions, You’re Doing the Media”: NFL Great Calls Naomi Osaka Out After French Open 2021 Pullout

Published 06/05/2021, 9:25 AM EDT
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 30, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka reacts during her first round match against Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig REUTERS/Christian Hartmann


Former NFL star Marcellus Wiley has opened up on the controversy around the withdrawal of Naomi Osaka from the French Open.

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The current World No.2 pulled out of the women’s draw at Roland-Garros in a fallout to being threatened with expulsion after she ruffled feathers with the announcement that she won’t do press during the tournament.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT), which holds the French Open, put out a statement saying it had imposed a fine of $15,000 on Osaka for deciding not to attend press conferences and adding that she would put herself at risk of expulsion if she persisted with her stand.

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The statement prompted the reigning Australian Open champion to go on Twitter to announce that she had withdrawn from the French Open.

The decision triggered a wave of support and sympathy from her peers as well as her sponsors.

Naomi Osaka no exception to media rule, says Marcellus Wiley

However, speaking to TMZ Sports, the NFL great said meeting media obligations is part of the professional commitment of any professional athlete these days and being one herself, Osaka is no exception.

He added it is the media which has made the 23-year-old Japanese the star that she is today and has given her all the celebrity and riches. 

“Yeah, you’re doing the media. You’re making the millions, you’re doing the media. It’s all the ecosystem, it all works hand-in-hand,” Wiley said.

The former NFL star added that there is a myth that sport is driven solely by the athletes and spectators when the reality is that media has a big role to play in the ecosystem by taking sports to millions around the world.

Watch this story: Champions!: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, And Others’ Trophy Lift at French Open

Tennis -WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 12, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka in action during her second road match against Jessica Pegula of U.S. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Osaka withdrew from French Open after furor over her media boycott

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“How do they think that sport is driven just because people show up and pay for cotton candy? That’s not it, right? It’s all of the investment that goes into sport and participation and that includes fan interest. To be a fan, you have to be a fanatic and this is a part of that,” Wiley said.

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Sharing a long note on Twitter, announcing her withdrawal from Roland-Garros, Osaka had revealed that she’d been battling mental sickness for the last two years, adding that she had even faced bouts of anxiety when it came to dealing with the press.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

968 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.

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