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We love when athletes take full agency in their careers.

French Open Tennis. Roland-Garros 2021.

Source: Tim Clayton – Corbis / Getty

Despite the fame, glory, and often never-ending stream of cash that comes with being a professional athlete, it’s not all s#!ts and giggles. Just like any other job, sometimes you’re just not in the mood. Sometimes you hate the conditions under which you have to do your job. But rarely can one of us just decide that we’re not going to when our job asks us to do something. However, that is one of the glorious benefits of being not just a pro athlete but one of the BEST pro athletes.

Naomi Osaka was ranked THEE #1 women’s tennis player in the world by the WTA in 2019, she currently sits at #2 as of February 2021. We say that to say Naomi can do whatever she wants with her talent and more importantly she can do whatever she wants to do to keep her mental health in check. Yesterday, a “controversy” was sparked after the French Open threatened to fine Osaka $15,000 and potential expulsion from the tournament unless she stopped to speak to the media after her matches. She took to Twitter to explain exactly why she doesn’t want to do press:

As a result of Naomi exercising her right not to participate in the dog-and-pony show that a great many pro sports leagues ask players to be a part of, she was fined $15,000. Additionally, all four Grand Slam tournaments released a joint statement essentially threatening to suspend her from future competition. Here is part of that statement via Roland-Garros:

We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences. As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament (Code of Conduct article III T.) and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions (Code of Conduct article IV A.3.).

We suggest you click the link above and read the platitude-laden statement in its entirety. It’s all bulls#!t. FTT President Gilles Moretton read another soulless statement that rings more hollow than a Soundcloud rapper’s “diamond” necklace to make matters worse. Via Mashable:

“First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka,” said Moretton. “The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland-Garros is unfortunate. We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery, and we look forward to having Naomi at our Tournament next year.

In a hypocritical twist of irony, Moretton read that word salad then, wait for it…refused to take questions from the media.

Naomi finally decided that enough was enough and officially pulled herself out the of French Open.

We couldn’t be more proud of Naomi for standing on her word and not cowering to the tournament overseers who couldn’t care less about her health. They’re probably more upset at losing a player with a major draw for TV and ads than they are about how she actually feels. Naomi obviously loves tennis and loves to compete but tennis clearly needs her more than she needs tennis. Especially if the price of admission her mental health.

F**k ’em, she ball.



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