Roy Gilbert

Naomi Osaka’s Withdrawal From the French Open Raises a Question Every Leader Must Be Prepared to Answer

Last Naomi Osaka, the world’s second-ranked women’s tennis player, said she would not attend press conferences while playing in the French Open, citing a disregard for athletes’ mental health during press conferences, especially after a loss.

“We’re often sat there and asked questions we’ve answered multiple times before,” she wrote , “or asked questions that bring doubts into our minds and I’m not going to subject myself to people that doubt me… I believe that the whole situation is kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”

True to her word, she was fined $15,000 after she skipped the news conference following her first-round win. In addition to that fine, the French Open — as well as the other three Grand Slam tournaments, in a rare display of unanimity (or an unnecessary flex, depending on your perspective) — threatened Osaka with harsher penalties for subsequent occurrences, up to and including possible disqualifications or suspensions .

On Monday she withdrew from the tournament, citing her battle with bouts of depression and anxiety , her need to focus on self-care, and her hope that her absence would turn the attention back to the tournament and the other players.

So who is right? Oddly enough, both sides.

Osaka, a self-described introvert, says she gets “huge waves of anxiety” she she has to speak to the media. “I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can,” she wrote . “So […]

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