Me not doing press is nothing personal to the tournament… I have a friendly relationship with most of them. However, if the organizations believe they can just keep saying, “do press or you’re going to be fined and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are the centerpiece of their cooperation [corporation] then I just have to laugh. Anyways, I hope the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity.Naomi Osaka, Twitter
Osaka’s pre-French Open statement was a nuclear bomb to the one percenters, the old country club goons. The audacity of this Black woman to demonstrate self-care. She has shown that self-love is an action. It requires no Zoom Meetings, No Roundtables, No Team Discussions, No Focus Groups. Just action!
She was cute when she awkwardly embraced another Black body in solidarity. She was marketable (read controllable) when she donned BLM masks, dragging the sport into the new millennium and introducing them to critical race theory. But now she has done the unforgiveable. She has usurped their authority. Worst, she has toppled their business model. Now she is to be punished, put in her place. She is to be tarred and feathered ala, Colin kaepernick.
From players to tennis pundits, the tennis world has fallen in line. They cite the rules. The norms. The customs. Their fear and limited humanity on full display, they parsed her words, and assigned her actions to entitlement, privilege. They fellated the four slam organizers who warn of “more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions”. In short, the sport is threatening her job, if she refuses to acquiesce. Her social media response, “anger is a lack of understanding. change makes people uncomfortable.”
Second only to Li Na, in her honesty, thoughtfulness and adorable awkwardness, Osaka has never had the ire of the press. That honor, goes to Nick Kyrgios or Bernard Tomic. But not even they have received such a harsh reprimand! The warning, “major offense investigation [series of two or more violations within 12 months] which could lead to further fines or suspension from future Grand Slam tournaments.” The deeds of Sharapova, Shapovalov, Pare, nor Zverev garnered a collective response like this!
A core element of the Grand Slam regulations is the responsibility of the players to engage with the media, whatever the result of their match, a responsibility which players take for the benefit of the sport, the fans and for themselves.
…Rules are in place to ensure all players are treated exactly the same, no matter their stature, beliefs or achievement. As a sport there is nothing more important than ensuring no player has an unfair advantage over another, which unfortunately is the case in this situation if one player refuses to dedicate time to participate in media commitments while the others all honour their commitments.Leaders of the Grand Slams: Moretton (French), McNulty (USTA), Hrdlicka (Australia) & Hewitt (Wimbledon)
This statement from the four horsemen of the apocalypse is mind-blowing. No other sport would release such an assine response to a player’s protest. It is ludacris to believe that tennis post match press is the only way to get players’ perspective of their match or that it is players’ responsibility to continue to grow the sport. Worst, tennis has consistently demonstrated its lack of equality-unfair advantages application of its rules. Tennis simply wants status quo. Osaka bemoans it.
Osaka’s statement shows neither empowerment, nor entitlement. It is a protest. If only the mist of misogynoir were absent everyone would see it.
Without revealing any specific personal diagnosis or issue, Osaka weighed in to a current issue, lodged a complaint and began a protest! Is she wrong? If she had ever refused media duties, had given lackluster media performances or even been as problematic as a number of other players, tennis’ response would have been understandable. But this, this is outrageous. Its not like press conferences ever go beyond inane questions; they never reach the highest levels of cognitive thinking, learning. Sadly, there is little, if any analyzing of the matches or players games. The press rarely demonstrate high tennis IQs. Post-match press conferences are largely perfunctory and uneventful. The press neither stimulates, challenges or confronts.
The shackled and unmotivated press will center this story for the entire French Open! So will the sport’s premier network, Tennis Channel. This is the narrative the tennis leaders want and the press is happy to oblige. The press/media is complicit in the sport’s lack of integrity and transparency.
So lets completely unfurl the already developing narrative being used to defame the sport’s one time darling. Osaka’s statement was poorly worded. Issues confounded. Her personal needs unclear. Hell, even the request is missing. What is a protest without an ask? But the point is clear. The statement reeks of frustration in the midst of social justice amplification. What a way to use a considerable platform. She is calling on the sport to address how press is handled. Tennis, an individual sport, does the worst job of caring for the physical, mental and emotional needs of its players. It is ill-structured, lacks equity, and its nepotism and cronyism runneth over.
IF the slam organizers are successful in ousting Osaka from the French Open, Wimbledon or the US Open, it will be far worst than the Kaepernick blackballing. Tennis your misogynoir is showing… So is your poor business plan. You can’t put all the weight of your financial success on the backs of the players. No wonder, the sport is dying!
Osaka is forcing the sport to reexamine its norms. This protest is important, even if players, fans and the sport can’t see it. She may force the sport to reinvent itself before it further destroys itself!