Osaka’s Roland Garros ban backfires spectacularly

Naomi Osaka’s wish that any fines she receives for boycotting the mandatory media conferences at Roland Garros go to mental health charities won’t be granted.

Earlier this week, the world No.2 announced she would not be speaking to any media during the upcoming tournament in Paris, citing mental health concerns.

Osaka said she “just gotta laugh” at the requirement to “do press or you’re gonna be fined.”

“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” wrote Osaka.

“We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”

She finished by saying that she hoped mental health charities would benefit from her stand.

“I hope the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity,” she wrote.

But Wide World of Sports can reveal that won’t be the case.

The International Tennis Federation, the governing body of the sport and the organiser of the four grand slam tournaments each year, confirmed that all fines go towards the development of the game.

“The Grand Slam Rule Book contains provisions regarding athlete commitments when playing Grand Slam tournaments, including fines, which go to the Grand Slam Development Fund (GSDF),” the ITF said in a statement to Wide World of Sports.

“The GSDF is a collective initiative by the four Grand Slam bodies and the ITF.

“The fund provides financial support for the development of tennis worldwide in the form of grants to players and tournaments where it is most needed in developing tennis regions.

“The GSDF has helped increase the number of nations represented in Grand Slam tournaments and other international competitions, with more than $50 million funding provided since its inception in 1986.”

Osaka’s stand has raised eyebrows amongst fellow players, with Rafael Nadal admitting that media interest helps sustain the game.

Osaka has been more than willing to take a stand at grand slam tournaments recently, having worn masks to draw attention to the Black Lives Matter movement during last year’s US Open.

Each mask carried the name of a person who was killed because they were black.

It didn’t prove a distraction on the court, with Osaka claiming her third grand slam title. She subsequently added a second Australian Open title in Melbourne in February.

However, she’s not amongst the favourites at Roland Garros, having never progressed past the third round in Paris.

She’s also never beaten a top-20 player on clay in seven attempts during her career.

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