Naomi Osaka faces French Open disqualification for avoiding media

Federico Delbonis in action ahead of the French Open

French Open organizers have fined Naomi Osaka $15,000 and threatened to disqualify her from the tournament after the world No. 2 skipped a press conference following her first-round victory Sunday over Romania's Patricia Maria Tig.

The Ukrainian hit a solid 16 winners and made 24 unforced errors, and won an impressive 74% of points on her first serve - which she made 53% of the time.

In addition to Sunday's fine during Day 1 of the French Open, she drew a surprising warning from all four Grand Slam tournaments that she could face stiffer penalties, including disqualification or even suspension, if she continues to avoid the media.

But what she might not have anticipated was that those fines would be just the tip of the iceberg.

The four-time major victor posted a statement on Twitter saying she was pulling out so that "everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris", adding that she would "take some time away from the court". "Now it's up to them to decide what's going to be", said former two-time Wimbledon victor Petra Kvitova after her opening win.

Tennis players are required to attend news conferences if requested to do so.

"We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences".

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The Grand Slams added that following Osaka's announcement on Wednesday; Roland Garros teams asked the 23-year-old to reconsider her position and were unsuccessful in their attempts to check on her wellbeing.

"You want to win a Grand Slam", Osaka said. She has raised her profile not simply by winning major titles but by advocating social justice; she wore masks that honored Black victims of violence, including police violence, after matches at last year's U.S. Open.

In addition, just this past week, it was revealed that for the second year in a row, Osaka was the highest-paid female athlete in the world, pulling in $55 million in 2020.

In the statement, the Grand Slams said the athletes' mental health is important and they are open to dialogue with Osaka and others on the topic, but they reminded her of her media obligations because they are required to treat all players equally.

And that was that from a player who has now strung together 15 successive Grand Slam match wins.

Osaka said she has also apologised to organisers over the affair which has dominated the early stages of the French Open ever since she warned last week. She has struggled on clay and never advanced past the third round in Paris, but the tournament remains one of the pillars of the sport.

German 26th seed Angelique Kerber, a three-time major victor, was the day's biggest loser in the women's draw, going down to 6-2, 6-4 Ukrainian qualifier Anhelina Kalinina. By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

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