Thirteen-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal respects Naomi Osaka’s decision to not do press events during the tournament. However, the Spaniard also said that the media is an important part of the sport. He further added that without people writing about them, sportspeople would not be where they are today. Speaking to reporters on Friday, Nadal said they must be prepared to accept questions from journalists.
“I respect her, of course, as an athlete and her personality. I respect her decision,” Nadal told reporters.
“We need to be ready to accept the questions and to try to produce an answer. Without the people writing the news and achievements that we are having around the world, probably we will not be the athletes that we are today.
“I have my point of view that the media is a very important part of our sport.”
Reigning women’s champion Iga Swiatek echoed his sentiments. “I don’t find (press conferences) difficult. It gives us a chance to explain our perspective, so I think it’s good.”
Ashleigh Barty, one of the favourites going into the French Open, also said she doesn’t let media talk affect her.
“We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players. I can’t really comment on what Naomi is feeling or her decisions she makes.
“At times press conference are hard, of course, but it’s also not something that bothers me. Certainly doesn’t keep me up at night what I say and hear or what you guys ask me.”
Osaka’s choice triggered a wave of public response. The WTA released a statement of their own, saying mental health is a priority for them. However, they added that media responsibilities are also important.
“Mental health is of the utmost importance to the WTA and for that matter, every individual person,” the organisation said in a statement on Friday.
“We have a team of professionals and a support system in place that look after our athletes’ mental and emotional health and well-being.
“The WTA welcomes a dialogue with Naomi (and all players) to discuss possible approaches that can help support an athlete as they manage any concerns related to mental health.
“Professional athletes have a responsibility to their sport and their fans to speak to the media surrounding their competition, allowing them the opportunity to share their perspective and tell their story.”