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Naomi Osaka in Tears in Her First Press Conference Since French Open

Osaka was accused by a reporter of using the press as and when it suited her, as reported by The Guardian.

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Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka broke down in her first press conference since withdrawing from the French Open in May for mental health reasons.

Osaka had decided against doing press conferences in Paris and was threatened with expulsion over refusing to fulfil her media duties. The four-time grand slam champion later withdrew from the event. She also skipped Wimbledon but participated in the Tokyo Olympics held in her native Japan.

Currently playing in the Cincinnati Open, she returned to her press conference duties on Monday after almost three months.

Osaka, who recently has had a strained relationship with some sections of the media, was accused by a reporter of using the press as and when it suited her.

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“When you say I’m not crazy about dealing with you guys, what does that refer to?” she said.

“I would say the occasion, when to do the press conferences is what I feel is the most difficult,” said Osaka, before pausing, as quoted by The Guardian. “I’m actually very interested in that point of view.

“For me, I feel this is something I can’t really speak for everybody, I can only speak for myself. But ever since I was younger, I’ve had a lot of media interest in me, and I think it’s because of my background as well as how I play.

“Because in the first place I’m a tennis player, which is why a lot of people are interested in me. So I would say in that regard I’m quite different to a lot of people, and I can’t really help that there are some things I tweet or say that create a lot of news articles or things like that.

“But I would also say, I’m not really sure how to balance it too, I’m figuring it out at the same time as you are, I would say.”

After saying this, Osaka broke down while listening to the next question. She then left the press conference for a brief period to compose herself. On returning, she answered one question in English and several in Japanese.

The Guardian reported that Osaka’s agent Stuart Duguid issued a written statement, where he condemned the reporter’s line of questioning.

“The bully at the Cincinnati Enquirer is the epitome of why player/media relations are so fraught right now,” said Duguid.

“Everyone on that Zoom will agree that his tone was all wrong, and his sole purpose was to intimidate. Really appalling behaviour,” he said.

“And this insinuation that Naomi owes her off-court success to the media is a myth – don’t be so self-indulgent.

Asked whether she is proud of herself after her decision to bring awareness to mental health issues, Naomi said, "I would say for me, in that moment I wasn't really proud. I felt like it was something I needed to do for myself. More than anything, I felt like I holed up in my house for a couple of weeks, and I was a little bit embarrassed to go out because I didn't know if people were looking at me in a different way than they usually did before.

"I think the biggest eye-opener was going to the Olympics and having other athletes come up to me and say that they were really glad that I did what I did. So after all that, yeah, I'm proud of what I did, and I think it was something that needed to be done," Osaka was quoted as saying by the WTA Tour.

The Japanese tennis star also spoke about her experience at the Tokyo Olympics where she became the first female tennis player to light the Olympics flame. Osaka, who was expected to win gold for Japan in women's singles, lost in the third round in the Olympics.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Tennis   Naomi Osaka   Cincinnati Open 

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