Journalist's 'appalling' Ash Barty claim amid Naomi Osaka furore

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka during press conferences at the Australian Open. Image: Getty
Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka during press conferences at the Australian Open. Image: Getty

An American journalist has inexplicably dragged Ash Barty into the furore surrounding Naomi Osaka at the French Open in an attempt to claim race plays a part in the media's treatment of Osaka.

The Japanese star sensationally withdrew from the French Open on Monday after being threatened with expulsion if she didn't reconsider a boycott on media commitments.

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Osaka copped a $15,000 fine after missing her post-match press conference on Sunday, saying she wanted to try to avoid the detrimental affect the media can have on her mental health.

But the Grand Slam board flagged the possibility of disqualifying Osaka from the French Open if she continued the boycott, resulting in her subsequent withdrawal on Monday.

Announcing her decision on Twitter, Osaka revealed she has been battling depression since 2018 and that press conferences can trigger her anxiety.

Her withdrawal has sparked global outrage about the way the media and tennis officials have treated Osaka and the issues surrounding mental health.

But American journalist Chris Spargo reckons there is also a racial element involved.

Spargo tweeted the transcripts from two press conferences at the Australian Open in February - one involving Barty and one with Osaka - to try and claim that the media's treatment of Osaka is racist.

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The only problem being the obvious fact that Barty is Indigenous, which Spargo didn't appear to realise.

“Take a look at the questions Ash Barty is asked in a post-match interview as compared to Naomi Osaka,” Spargo wrote. 

“Same journalists, same tournament. This is just as much about race as it is about mental health, be it Venus, Serena or Naomi in the press room.”

Barty was asked things like: “Is that the best start you think you have had to a grand slam?" and “You are playing so well, what’s the next step?”.

While Osaka was asked: “You looked a bit nervous" and “Why was it intimidating to see (Serena Williams) on the other side of the net?”

Naomi Osaka in action during the first round of the French Open. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Naomi Osaka in action during the first round of the French Open. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Fans slam journalist over 'appalling' Ash Barty claim

What Spargo also failed to mention was the fact that Barty's press conference came after a routine 6-0 6-0 victory in the opening round, while Osaka's came after a high-profile semi-final triumph over her childhood idol Serena Williams.

Twitter users were quick to call out Spargo's questionable take, which was labelled "appalling" by some.

"You realise Ash Barty is a proud indigenous Australian?" one user wrote.

Another commented: "I am looking for your point, but I cannot find it.. I thought all questions for both were good."

While a third wrote: "I bet every other player got different questions too so this example is pointless."

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Barty begins her quest for a second French Open title on Tuesday night (AEDT) against Bernarda Pera of the US.

Osaka's withdrawal means the Aussie star is guaranteed to retain the World No.1 ranking.

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