French Open organizers defend ‘pragmatic’ stance with Naomi Osaka

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French Open organizers are standing by their “pragmatic” approach in how they dealt with four-time major champion Naomi Osaka during the tournament.

They detailed on Sunday how they tried to engage with Osaka several times before she decided to withdraw from the tournament.

“What we did all together with the Slams, we had to do it,” French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton said at a news conference on the final day of the tournament. “We did the right choice, even if you feel like we shouldn’t say anything … regarding Naomi.”

Osaka withdrew from Roland Garros after she was fined $15,000 for skipping news conferences after her first-round victory. She was threatened by all four Grand Slam tournaments with further consequences if she continued to avoid the media.

Amelie Oudea-Castera, the French tennis federation director general said organizers had written to Osaka privately before the four Grand Slam tournaments publicly fined her and warned of possible additional punishment. 

Oudea-Castera said that the four tournaments were simply reminding Osaka of the rules.

“On the $15,000 fine, you noticed we did not want to put that fine at the maximum,” Oudea-Castera said. “On purpose, we only wanted to be at 15, because we wanted to send a message that we wouldn’t go to a default right away. We wanted to have a progressive escalation should she continue not to commit to her obligations.”

She also acknowledged that tennis officials “can do better” in dealing with players’ mental health issues.