Naomi Osaka was fined $15,000 by Grand Slam organisers for skipping a news conference following her first-round win at the French Open on Sunday, and was also warned of possible expulsion from Roland Garros and future majors if she fails to meet her media commitments.
In the run up to the claycourt major, the world number two announced she would boycott news conferences while in Paris to raise awareness of players’ mental well-being, saying the nature of questions from journalists is like “kicking a person when they are down”.
Osaka started her French Open campaign with a 6-4 7-6(4) win over Romanian Patricia Maria Tig and then snubbed the post-match news conference, although the four-time Grand Slam champion did hold a court-side interview immediately after the contest.
The board of the four Grand Slams said in a statement on Sunday that the French Open organisers had asked Osaka to reconsider her position and tried unsuccessfully to speak with her to resolve the matter.
“The Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open jointly wrote to her to check on her well-being and offer support, underline their commitment to all athletes’ well-being and suggest dialogue,” the statement read.
“She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them and that rules should equally apply to all players.
“Naomi Osaka today chose not to honour her contractual media obligations. The Roland Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 fine.”
Osaka’s management did not immediately respond to a request for comment but the player published a cryptic message on Twitter.
“Anger is a lack of understanding. Change makes people uncomfortable,” she wrote.
The 23-year-old Japanese player, who lives in Florida, has never made it past the third round at Roland Garros and arrived in Paris having played only three matches on clay this season after early defeats in Madrid and Rome.
Osaka, who according to sports business website Sportico earned $55.2 million over the past 12 months, has previously used her platform and considerable media attention to highlight issues of police violence and racial inequality.
Thiem knocked out by Andujar in first round
Two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem was knocked out in the first round of the French Open by Spanish journeyman Pablo Andujar 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-4 6-4 in the first major upset of the claycourt Grand Slam on Sunday.
It first seemed that Andujar’s win against 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer in Geneva earlier this month would count for nothing. But Austrian Thiem’s game began to unravel after a dominant start on court Philippe Chatrier.
Thiem, who reached the final in Paris in 2018 and 2019, had never lost in the opening round at Roland Garros, but that prospect grew as Andujar went for his shots and unsettled his 27-year-old opponent.
Thiem broke back after conceding a break in the first game of the decider, but Andujar kept on piling up the pressure with deep strokes and broke again for 3-2.
The 35-year-old, ranked 68th in the world, then held serve throughout to claim victory after nearly four-and-a-half hours after Thiem made a total of 66 unforced errors.
Zverev turns around two-set deficit against qualifier
Sixth seed Alexander Zverev rallied from two sets down to beat qualifier Oscar Otte 3-6 3-6 6-2 6-2 6-0 in his opening round of the French Open on Sunday.
The 24-year-old seemed to be heading for an early exit like Austrian Dominic Thiem, who beat him in the 2020 U.S. Open final, when he lost the first two sets on the Suzanne Lenglen Court but he found a different gear to turn around the contest.
For the rest of the match, it was one-way traffic against the 152nd-ranked Otte in the first meeting between the two Germans as Zverev’s movement on the red clay improved and he found more power in his shots and more sting in his serves.
“It’s the first time I played Oscar so I didn’t know what to expect much but he didn’t give me any rhythm,” Zverev said in his on-court interview.