French tennis boss takes heat for avoiding press questions after Naomi Osaka criticism

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French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton faced more scrutiny Monday when he avoided taking questions from the press after making a statement on Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open.

Moretton called Osaka’s decision last week to boycott the media a “phenomenal mistake.” After Osaka decided to withdraw from the event, Moretton expressed regret.

“We are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka. The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland-Garros is unfortunate,” he said.

“We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery. We look forward to having Naomi in our tournament next year. As all the Grand Slams, the WTA, the ATP, and the ITF, we remain very committed to all athletes’ well-being and to continually improving every aspect of players’ experience in our tournament, including with the media, like we have always striven to do.”

Moretton left without taking questions from reporters and was criticized for doing it.

Osaka announced she was withdrawing from the tournament earlier in the day, citing mental health concerns.

“This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris. I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” she wrote in a lengthy statement.

“More important I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly. The truth is that I suffered long bouts of depression since the U.S. Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that. Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as they help dull my social anxiety.

“Though tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt), I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media. I get really nervous and find it stressful to always engage and give you the best answers I can.

“So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences. I announced it preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that. I wrote privately to the tournament apologizing and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the Slams are intense. I’m gonna take some time way from the court now, but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans.”

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