FFT chief Gilles Moretton claims Naomi Osaka's media boycott was handled "very well", says she would not have been expelled from RG

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka

Gilles Moretton, president of the French Tennis Federation, believes Roland Garros officials handled Naomi Osaka's media boycott "very, very well."

Ahead of her Roland Garros campaign, Naomi Osaka announced she would be boycotting press conferences in Paris in a bid to safeguard her mental health. The four-time Major champion also said she would accept any fine imposed on her for her decision.

Naomi Osaka stayed true to her word and skipped her press conference after her first-round win against Patricia Maria Tig. But her actions did not sit well with the organizers, who slapped her with a fine of $15,000 and also warned her of harsher punishments in the future.

Naomi Osaka then withdrew from the event and revealed she had been suffering from depression since 2018.

When asked to assess the situation, Moretton told the New York Times that organizers never wanted to expel Osaka from the tournament. He claimed their main goal was to lay bare the rules for the World No. 2.

“I think we did very, very well,” Moretton said. “The goal was not to penalize her. It was to say clearly: Here’s the rule.”
“I think we would have kept giving her (Naomi Osaka) fines. I don’t think we would have gone to a tougher sanction, because we understood the situation. But it’s the rule. The rule is there to be fair to all the players.”

Naomi Osaka raised a real problem, but freedom of press must be kept: Gilles Moretton

Gilles Moretton believes Naomi Osaka raised a genuine issue
Gilles Moretton believes Naomi Osaka raised a genuine issue

Gilles Moretton acknowledged the importance of players' mental health but declared that very few would attend press conferences if they were not mandatory.

“The problem she raised is a real problem, a real topic for discussion,” he said. “Perhaps we will change the rules, and then everyone only comes to press if they want to. You will see that there are not many who will come.”

The 63-year-old believes giving players free rein in regards to their media obligations could lead to "serious problems."

“Everyone will be their own journalist,” he added, “speak when they want to speak, say what they want to say, respond only to questions they want to answer. And I think it’s a serious problem.
"So yes of course to measures that will provide help and support to players, but let’s keep the freedom of the press to ask a question that might be uncomfortable and that interests the public, who are the ones who provide a living for the athletes and the personalities.”
Edited by Arvind Sriram
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