Naomi Osaka’s agent, Stuart Duguid, is accusing a reporter of being a “bully” after the tennis star broke down in tears at a press conference in Cincinnati on Monday.
The Western & Southern Open marked Osaka’s first WTA press conference since withdrawing from the French Open back in June. During the conference, she answered several questions before a reporter asked her about the balance between having a large media profile and speaking to the media.
In response, Osaka said: “Ever since I was young, I have had a lot of media interest on me, and I think it’s because of my background as well as how I play. I’m a tennis player. That’s why a lot of people are interested in me.”
She went on to explain, “I would say in that regard I’m quite different to a lot of people, and I can’t really help that there are some things that I tweet or some things that I say that kind of create a lot of news articles or things like that, and I know it’s because I have won a couple of Grand Slams and I have done a lot of press conferences that these things happen.”
“But I would also say, I’m not really sure how to balance the two. I’m figuring it out at the same time as you are, I would say,” Naomi concluded.
After giving her answer, Osaka lowered her cap and wiped away tears, briefly leaving the press conference room before returning to take more questions.
According to Osaka’s long-time agent, the reporter in question behaved “appallingly” and attempted to intimidate the four-time grand slam champion.
“The bully at the Cincinnati Enquirer is the epitome of why player/media relations are so fraught right now. Everyone on that Zoom will agree that his tone was all wrong and his sole purpose was to intimidate. Really appalling behavior,” Duguid said. “And this insinuation that Naomi owes her off court success to the media is a myth – don’t be so self-indulgent.”
Following her withdrawal from the French Open, Osaka skipped Wimbledon this summer in an effort to prioritize her mental health.
Now, she has pledged to donate her prize money from the Western & Southern Open to support earthquake relief efforts in Haiti after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the country on Saturday. While the same can’t be said about a lot of folks, we can always count on Naomi to be a class act.