Paris: Tennis legend Rafael Nadal says while he appreciates women’s world No.2 Naomi Osaka’s decision to not speak to the press during the French Open, he feels the media plays an important role in shaping the careers of athletes.
“I understand her, but for me without the press, without the people who are writing the news and achievements that we are having around the world probably we will not be the athletes that we are today,” said 13-time French Open champion Nadal at a press conference on Friday.
“We won’t have the recognition that we have around the world, and we will not be that popular,” he said.
Japanese sensation Naomi this week said that she would not face the media at Roland Garros as “people have no regard for athletes’ mental health” during press conferences.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) had earlier said that Naomi, a four-time Grand Slam winner, has a “responsibility” to her sport to speak to the media.
“Mental health is of the utmost importance to the WTA and for that matter, every individual person. We have a team of professionals and a support system in place that look after our athletes’ mental and emotional health and well-being,” it said.
“The WTA welcomes a dialogue with Naomi (and all players) to discuss possible approaches that can help support an athlete as they manage any concerns related to mental health while also allowing us to deliver upon our responsibilities to the fans and public,” said the WTA.
The first round of the French Open starts on Sunday.