Naomi Osaka may have decided to give media the silent treatment, but she has been the talking point on the first day of French Open. Alexander Zverev also mocked the Japanese player on Sunday before his first-round match against Oscar Otte.
After the warm-up, the German took his own sweet time to step back on court. The 24-year-old was informed by chair umpire Louise Azemar Engzell that he was late for the coin toss.
“You know how Naomi said you could fine her for every single match she is not at the press conference?” courtside microphones caught him saying.
“You can fine me for every single match I’m late.”
Earlier in the day, Osaka was fined $15,000 for skipping the post-match press conference following her 6-4, 7-6 (4) win over Romania’s Patricia Tig in the first round at Roland Garros.
The four Grand Slams issued a joint statement, saying the 23-year-old could face default if she continued her media boycott.
Mari Osaka defends sister Naomi
Meanwhile, Naomi Osaka’s elder sister, Mari, a former player herself, took to social media to explain the logic behind the four-time Grand Slam champion’s decision to skip press conferences.
“Naomi mentioned to me before the tournament that a family member had come up to her and remarked that she’s bad at clay,” she wrote.
“At every press conference she’s told she’s has a bad record on clay. When she lost in Rome r1 she was not ok mentally.
“Her confidence was completely shattered and I think that everyone’s remarks and opinions have gotten to her head and she herself believed that she was bad on clay.
“This isn’t true and she knows that in order to do well and have a shot at winning Roland Garros she will have to believe that she can. That’s the first step any athlete needs to do, believe in themselves.
“So her solution was to block everything out. No talking to people who is going to put doubt in her mind. She’s protecting her mind hence why it’s called mental health.
“So many people are picky on this term thinking you need to have depression or have some sort of disorder to be able to use the term mental health.”
Mari Osaka received a backlash from the fans, who suggested that Naomi’s decision to skip press conferences was more ‘strategic’.
She thus deleted the aforementioned post and replaced it with a public apology to her sister, believing she had only ‘made the situation worse.’