June 4, 2021 7:36:25 pm
Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli says there are big question marks about whether or not Naomi Osaka will play at the grasscourt championships this year after her withdrawal from the French Open, citing mental health issues.
Japan’s Osaka pulled out of French Open on Monday after refusing to attend the mandatory post-match press conferences and revealing she had been suffering from bouts of depression for several years.
Her decision has turned the spotlight on the media demands on tennis players and Bartoli believes the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) are trying to find a solution that could work for Osaka.
“We didn’t expect for this to happen, Bartoli told ITV Sport during her role as a pundit on Friday. “We didn’t think the situation was so bad with Naomi. I think the WTA is trying really hard to find some solution.
“The press conferences at the moment are not the usual ones with the press not even in the press room, and they all being done on Zoom, so you don’t feel like that anxiety you might feel when you have someone in your face asking a tough question.
“But maybe they are trying to find a way to narrow down to maybe three or four questions for Naomi’s press conferences.”
Osaka, 23, said in a statement on Monday that she would take some time away from the game.
The ITF has promised a comprehensive review on how players and media interact during tournaments, saying they take mental health issues extremely seriously.
With Wimbledon looming later this month, Bartoli feels that the time frame is maybe too small for Osaka.
“I hope she is at Wimbledon for women’s tennis and tennis in general,” the Frenchwoman said. “She is such a huge star and she resonates around the world. But of course, there are a lot of question marks, we don’t know if she will be there.
“We haven’t heard from her, we don’t know where she is. But the players are supporting her and the WTA are trying to find a solution with the ITF so that she can be comfortable the next time she faces a press conference.”
Wimbledon has said there is a desire to work together to create “meaningful improvements”.
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