'Taking it personally': French Open deletes tweet amid Osaka furore

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
The official French Open account on Twitter appeared to throw some shade at Naomi Osaka in a since-deleted post referencing her refusal to speak with media during the tournament. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
The official French Open account on Twitter appeared to throw some shade at Naomi Osaka in a since-deleted post referencing her refusal to speak with media during the tournament. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

French Open officials have deleted a tweet posted from the tournament's official account after appearing to make a joke about world No.2 Naomi Osaka's refusal to engage with press.

The 23-year-old announced last week that she would not speak to reporters throughout the Paris tournament, citing unease with a lack of 'regard for athletes mental health'.

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Osaka later sent a message to tournament officials, insisting she had no issue with the French Open itself and adding that her choice to go public with her stance ahead of the tournament was 'not personal'.

Eagle-eyed tennis fans on social media spotted a tweet from the official Roland Garros account, which featured media photos of stars such as Rafael Nadal and Coco Gauff, and was captioned 'They understood the assignment'.

The post was swiftly deleted, but not before quick-thinking users took screenshots of the post.

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Her decision has sparked a lively debate in the sporting world but has drawn fierce criticism from French officials, who believe all players have an obligation to discuss their games with the media.

French Tennis Federation (FFT) President Gilles Moretton wasn't impressed with Osaka's explanation.

"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."

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Osaka's fellow players, while supportive of her general points about mental health, stopped short of backing her point blank refusal to speak with press.

When asked about Osaka's stance, a characteristically to-the-point Ash Barty Barty said such requirements were simply part of tennis.

“We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players,” Barty said.

“I can’t really comment on what Naomi is feeling or her decisions she makes. At times press conferences are hard of course but it’s also not something that bothers me.

“I’ve never had problems answering questions. It’s not something that’s ever fazed me too much.

“And it certainly doesn’t keep me up at night what I say and hear or what you guys ask me.”

Nadal, a 13-time French Open winner, said he understood Osaka's position but largely disagreed on the basis that world tennis wouldn't enjoy the interest it does without the press.

“I understand her, but for me without the press, without the people who are writing the news and achievements that we are having around the world probably we will not be the athletes that we are today,” he said.

“We won’t have the recognition that we have around the world, and we will not be that popular.”

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

“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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