Fresh twist in Naomi Osaka controversy as leaked email emerges

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Naomi Osaka, pictured here at the French Open.
Naomi Osaka sent an email to French Open bosses. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Tennis writer Jon Wertheim has revealed the email Naomi Osaka sent to French Open bosses further explaining her decision to boycott press conferences at Roland Garros.

The Japanese star has firmly divided the tennis world after announcing she won't be attending any press conferences during the clay-court grand slam in order to protect her mental health.

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Osaka said she believed the nature of some of the questions puts an undue burden on players' mental health and would happily accept the fines that come her way as a result.

Players can be fined up to $US20,000 ($A25,833) for skipping a media conference at grand slams, but Osaka hoped the "considerable amount" she expected to forfeit would go towards a mental health charity.

The furore took a further twist on Thursday when American tennis writer Wertheim leaked an email that Osaka had sent to French Open organisers.

In the email, Osaka explains that her decision is “nothing against the French Open or even the press members themselves”.

“This stance is against the system requiring athletes to be forced to do press on occasions when they are suffering from mental health. I believe it is archaic and in need of reform,” she wrote.

“After this tournament I want to work with the Tours and the governing bodies to figure out how we best compromise to change the system.

“Unfortunately for Roland Garros this has happened during your tournament, which is just pure coincidence and nothing personal. 

"I have nothing but respect for your event."

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French Open bosses slam Naomi Osaka

However French Tennis Federation (FFT) President Gilles Moretton isn't impressed.

"It's a deep regret, for you journalists, for her personally and for tennis in general," Moretton said.

"I think this is a phenomenal mistake. It shows to what extent today (the need) that there is strong governance in tennis.

"What is happening there is, in my opinion, not acceptable. We will stick to the laws and rules for penalties and fines."

Naomi Osaka, pictured here at Roland Garros ahead of the French Open.
Naomi Osaka practices at Roland Garros ahead of the French Open. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Tournament director Guy Forget was also left gobsmacked by Osaka's call.

“As the tournament progresses, we will see how she behaves," he said.

"I don’t know what her attitude will be in the coming days, but it doesn’t send a very positive message."

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic has also reacted to the controversy, saying press conferences were simply part-and-parcel of the sport.

“I understand the press conferences sometimes can be very unpleasant, and it’s not something you enjoy always - especially if you lose a match,” he said.

“But it is part of the sport and part of your life on the tour, and this is something we will have to do, otherwise we will get fined.”

with agencies

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