A few days ago, 4-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka took to social media to declare that she won’t be attending post-match press conferences at the ongoing French Open because of mental health issues. 

She said that the questions asked by the journalists can often be repetitive and bring doubt into the players’ minds – and that in order to protect her mental health, she has decided not to “do any press during Roland Garros”.

She futher threw light on the matter and added: 

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 centerpiece of their cooperation then I just gotta laugh.

With that, she accepted the fine she knew she’d inevitably be levied with, while acknowledging that her decision isn’t a personal remark on the journalists, with whom she shares a “friendly relationship”.

Now, this did not go down well with the Grand Slam authorities and they issued a joint press release, saying that while players’ mental health is paramount, a fine of $15,000 will be levied on Osaka, for not following rules that are equal for all participating athletes.

The press release also stated that attempts had been made to reach out to Osaka but she failed to make any kind of acknowledgement.

Following this, Osaka deleted her posts from her social media accounts, but did post that she will be bowing out of the tournament because she wanted everyone’s focus to go back to the tournament instead of her stand. 

So clearly, a lot went down in a span of a few days, but what stands out is the fact that Osaka took a decision and did not back down under pressure. She has been getting a lot of love and appreciation for the same. 

This is a very important topic of discussion, and an issue for all workplaces to consider. If your employee/participant comes out and says they can’t do something because of troubles related to mental health, you try your best to fix the problem, especially when the problem has been in existence, very evidently, for years or centuries. 

Also, ‘here is $15,000 fine, now please tell us what your issue is, we will try to solve it’ is not how you have a dialogue with someone.