'Ashamed': Naomi Osaka controversy sparks change for tearful star

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Iga Swiatek (pictured left) covering her face with a towel as she leaves the court in tears and (pictured right) Naomi Osaka during a press conference.
Iga Swiatek (pictured left) was tearful after her loss at the WTA Finals and opted not to face the media, a revamped rule ever since Naomi Osaka's (pictured right) stance earlier in the year. (Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka's call for a revamp has sparked change after rising superstar Iga Swiatek opted to not face reporters after a tearful loss at the WTA Finals.

Maria Sakkari, who is also having a breakout year, defeated a tearful Swiatek in the first round clash of the year-end finals.

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The 26-year-old was too much for the 20-year-old Polish star as she ran away with a 6-2, 6-4 victory.

Swiatek was off her game and at the end of the match she could be seen in tears due to the pressure.

In the past, players would be expected to face reporters to discuss the game after a loss.

But, Swiatek chose to answer questions via email and skip the face-to-face media opportunity.

This new move is a result of Osaka's stand earlier in the year.

Osaka has been in the spotlight this year after withdrawing from the French Open and skipping Wimbledon over mental health issues.

She said her problems were exacerbated by speaking to the media after matches.

Her stand was intended to bring change to the sport and it sparked a revamp from the WTA to allow players the opportunity to answer questions and for journalists to then disseminate the responses.

Swiatek took advantage of this new accomodation in her first ever appearance at the WTA Final.

Iga Swiatek leaves the court with a towel covering her head.
Iga Swiatek (pictured) leaves the court after being defeated by Maria Sakkari in two sets during Day 2 of 2021 Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara at Centro Panamericano de Tenis on November 11, 2021 in Guadalajara, Mexico. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Osaka said in September she planned to take an indefinite break from tennis after her third-round exit from the US Open.

"I honestly don't know when I'm going to play my next tennis match," Osaka said following her defeat to Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez, who went on to make the final.

"I think I'm going to take a break from playing for a while."

Iga Swiatek in tears after WTA Finals loss

Sakkari started the year ranked 21st and although she did not win a title this season, she reached the final in Ostrava and the semi-finals at the US Open, Roland Garros and Miami to become the first Greek woman to qualify for the WTA Finals.

Swiatek, who won titles in Adelaide and Rome in 2021, is also making her debut at the season-ending tournament.

"Yeah, I think it was a very solid match from my side," Sakkari said.

"Obviously my serve really helped my game.

"I felt quite good with the altitude. I could control my shots pretty well. I think every day I'll feel even better."

Iga Swiatek (pictured) looking frustrated in the second set of her singles match against Maria Sakkari.
Iga Swiatek (pictured) reacts in the second set of her singles match against Maria Sakkari during Day 2 of 2021 Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara at Centro Panamericano de Tenis on November 11, 2021 in Guadalajara, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images for WTA)

All of the players are having to adjust their game to the nearly 1,500 metre altitude of Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city.

The $5 million ($A6.9m) tournament, which was cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, features a round-robin group stage before the semi-finals and final.

The WTA Finals are being played in Guadalajara for this year only, with the event scheduled to return to Shenzhen, China, in 2022.

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