During the press conference at Cincinnati’s Western and Southern Open, where she is through to the second round, Osaka became emotional following a line of questioning from the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Daugherty.
He accused Osaka of using the press when it suits her: “You’re not crazy about dealing with us, especially in this format, yet you have a lot of outside interests that are served by having a media platform,” before asking how she balances the two.
“When you say I’m not crazy about dealing with you guys, what does that refer to?” she replied.
To which Daugherty answered: “Well, you have said you don’t especially like the press conference format. Yet that seems to be the most widely used means of communicating to the media and through the media to the public.”
“I would say the occasion, when to do the press conferences, is what I feel is the most difficult,” said Osaka, who paused for a moment before adding, “I’m actually very interested in that point of view.
“For me, I feel this is something I can’t really speak for everybody, I can only speak for myself. But ever since I was younger, I’ve had a lot of media interest on me, and I think it’s because of my background, as well as how I play.
“Because in the first place I’m a tennis player, which is why a lot of people are interested in me. So 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 I tweet or say that create a lot of news articles or things like that.”
She added: “But I would also say, I’m not really sure how to balance it too, I’m figuring it out at the same time as you are, I would say.”
After answering the question the conference moderator moved on, but Osaka appeared tearful as she pulled a hat down to cover her face. The moderator then suggested taking a short break and the four-time-grand slam winner left and later returned to complete her media duties.
Osaka’s agent Stuart Duguid hit back at Daugherty in a written statement over his question.
“The bully at the Cincinnati Enquirer is the epitome of why player/media relations are so fraught right now,” he said. “Everyone on that Zoom will agree that his tone was all wrong and his sole purpose was to intimidate. Really appalling behaviour.”
Duguid added: “And this insinuation that Naomi owes her off-court success to the media is a myth – don’t be so self-indulgent.”
Fans of the tennis star shared warm messages of support after her tearful press appearance.
I feel so bad for this young lady. Everyone isn’t able to handle what others may have or are handling.
Naomi Osak… https://t.co/ln8vkCfsi4