French Open organizers released a statement on Sunday defending their actions while dealing with four-time major champion Naomi Osaka during the tournament.
French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton said at a news conference on the final day of the tournament that the federation tried to engage with Naomi Osaka several times before she decided to withdraw. “We did it the right way,” Moretton said
Osaka said she experienced anxiety before speaking to the media and revealed she suffered bouts of depression. She disclosed that she would not be participating at any mandatory press events at the French Open this year to protect her mental health.
She withdrew from Roland Garros after she was fined $15,000 for skipping the news conference after her first-round victory and was threatened by all four Grand Slam tournaments with the possibility of disqualification or suspension if she continued to avoid the media.
“What we did all together with the Slams, we had to do it,” Moretton said to reporters on Sunday night. “We did the right choice, even if you feel like we shouldn’t say anything … regarding Naomi.”
Amelie Oudea-Castera, the French tennis federation director general, said organizers really tried to engage with Naomi several times, several ways, including on the practice courts, including in writing.
“The Slams were merely reminding Osaka of the rules. There is a specific book explaining that. And when you regularly default your obligations without giving specific explanations in particular, you expose yourself to a default or more permanent sanction,” Oudea-Castera said.
“We wanted her to know because it was a way to protect her and to explain that to her. On the $15,000 fine, you noticed we did not want to put that fine at the maximum,”
“On purpose, we only wanted to be at 15, because we wanted to send a message that we wouldn’t go to a default right away. We wanted to have a progressive escalation should she continue not to commit to her obligations.”