Osaka stands by decision to skip media

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World No.2 Naomi Osaka has defended her decision to skip media at the French Open, saying "athletes are human" and their mental health should be respected like any workplace.

As she prepared to "make Japan proud" at the Tokyo Olympics, Osaka insisted players should be able to avoid media scrutiny for their mental wellbeing.

Osaka stunned the tennis world when she quit the French Open last month after being fined and threatened with expulsion for declining to face media after her first match.

While the 23-year-old Japanese star claimed she maintained a good relationship with journalists, she hoped the tennis world could respect mental health issues.

"It's OK to not be OK, and it's OK to not talk about it," Osaka wrote in an essay for Time Magazine.

"I communicated that I wanted to skip press conferences at Roland Garros to exercise self-care and preservation of my mental health. I stand by that. Athletes are humans.

"In my case, I felt under a great amount of pressure to disclose my symptoms - frankly because the press and the tournament did not believe me.

"I do not wish that on anyone."

Osaka said traditional news conferences were "out of date".

"I believe that we can make it better, more interesting and more enjoyable for each side. Less subject v object. More peer to peer," she said.

Osaka's French Open exit led to an outpouring of support from fellow tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams to Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton and former Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt.

She was particularly inspired by encouragement from American swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian.

"Michael Phelps told me that by speaking up I may have saved a life. If that's true, then it was all worth it," she said.

After skipping Wimbledon, four-time grand slam champion Osaka is focused on a successful return at the Olympics on her home soil.

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