Naomi Osaka has quietly become one of the most outspoken athletes in sport but she will be silent over the next couple of weeks – or however long her stay at the French Open lasts. The 24-year-old announced on her social media last week that she will not do any press at Roland-Garros. Naomi Osaka: biography, net worth, anti-racism and sexism advocacy, and becoming the next Serena Williams “I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one. We are often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.” The truth is that few doubt her, except for the question mark of success on clay and grass. A win at Roland-Garros will dispel that and this decision should give Osaka every chance to win. “Me not doing press is nothing personal to the tournament and a couple journalists have interviewed me since I was young so I have a friendly relationship with most of them,” she wrote. “However, if the organisations think that they can just keep saying, ‘Do press or you’re gonna be fined’ and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are the centrepiece of their cooperation, then I just gotta laugh.” Osaka wants ‘discussion’ on Olympics amid virus surge in Japan Osaka highlighted this point by posting a video of NFL player Marshawn Lynch on Instagram. The Seattle Seahawks star once stonewalled journalists in a press conference by answering “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” to their every question. It is a cruel and unusual punishment having to do press as an individual athlete after losing and that is before the inanities of some of the lines questioning. You can understand why you might not want to front up after a bad day at the office. ️ pic.twitter.com/EegFSKnoie — NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 26, 2021 If she says that snubbing the media is for the good of her mental health, that is fair enough. She knows her own mind, others are entitled to disagree. The 13-time winner French Open winner Rafa Nadal did as much on the pre-tournament media day. “I respect it,” the Spaniard said. “I respect her, of course, as an athlete and her personality. I respect her decision. I don’t know. I mean, we as sports people, I mean, we need to be ready to accept the questions and to try to produce an answer, no? Osaka calls out racists ‘profiting off Asian culture’ “I understand her, but on the other hand, for me, I mean, without the press, without the people who normally travel, who are writing the news and achievements that we are having around the world, we probably will not be the athletes that we are today. We [wouldn’t] have the recognition that we have around the world, and we will not be that popular, no?” Osaka’s popularity is not in question and there has been plenty of support for her from inside the sport and out, seven-time slam winner Venus Williams and rapper Nicki Minaj among them. “We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players,” said world No 1 Ash Barty. “I can’t really comment on what Naomi is feeling or her decisions she makes. At times press conferences are hard, of course, but it’s also not something that bothers me. I’ve never had problems answering questions or being completely honest with you guys. It’s not something that’s ever fazed me too much.” That is not accounting for the fact that there is a massive issue for Osaka this summer and one that no one else really has to face. Osaka is the face of the Tokyo Olympics and she is also expected to be the voice of it. The Games are not going away any time soon. Every day there is another story from Japan and Osaka would have been asked at every opportunity. Osaka at top of game – but more to come on and off court It’s a distraction that she does not need and one she can ill afford if she is to play at her best. On the other hand, she can afford the fine for not fulfilling her press obligations – a maximum punishment of US$20,000. The French Open are coming for her cash. French Tennis Federation president Gilles Morreton has said as much. After calling her decision a “phenomenal mistake”, Morreton said that the rules would be enforced to their fullest. Who is Naomi Osaka? From Japanese birth to overtaking Serena Williams That is a drop in the bucket of a reported US$55.2 million earned over the last 12 months, according to a Sportico report last week. That she can afford the fine is beside the point. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are a complete and utter circus. Day after day the reasons to call them off grow and it is not fair on the athletes, any athlete, to be fielding questions when the organisers are burying their heads in the sand. The Japanese public are growing ever more discontent with the prospect of holding the Olympics this summer as the state of emergency is extended. People want answers, but they won’t be getting them from Naomi Osaka.