The coach of Naomi Osaka says she is using her superstar status to force change with her controversial media boycott at the French Open.
On Sunday, officials at Roland Garros threatened Osaka, the world No.2, with disqualification if she persists in boycotting media press conferences, which she claims are detrimental to her mental health.
The 23-year-old was fined $15,000 for refusing to attend a press conference after her opening 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) victory over Romanian world No. 63 Patricia Maria Tig.
Following her win, Osaka agreed to a short on-court TV interview only.
Belgian coach Wim Fissette explains: “Naomi has the opportunity to use her status to address problems and to initiate things.
“In the US, the subject is very topical at the moment, as athletes want more freedom in dealing with the press. So that they are simply not threatened right away with punishment if they don’t feel well for a day.”
Osaka has likened traditional post-match press conferences to “kicking people when they’re down”, but French Tennis Federation president Gilles Moretton has described her vow of silence as “a phenomenal error”.
However, the Japanese star fired back a volley, tweeting: “Anger is a lack of understanding. Change makes people uncomfortable.”
In the Spiegel interview, coach Fissette also insisted Osaka “knows it’s important to talk to the press” and is not boycotting the media “for herself alone”, but is “concerned with fundamental issues – she wants to bring about change”.