Mauresmo steering Roland Garros beyond past press controversy with Naomi Osaka
The first-year tournament director faces the challenge of addressing mental health concerns spurred by Naomi Osaka’s complaints about press coverage at last year’s Roland Garros.
In her press conference on Wednesday, Roland-Garros’ new tournament director, Amelie Mauresmo, addressed the tournament’s progress in addressing press-related mental health concerns from players like Naomi Osaka. The Japanese former world No 1 dropped out of Roland Garros last year following a $15,000 fine for failing to appear at her first-round press conference, a decision she attributed to mental health concerns.
“The goal is not to put anyone on a bad position if there is a mental, kind of fragile mental problem or state,” the French former No 1 clarified. “We treated these mental health issues very differently this year, because there is also all this experience behind the tournament.”
Mauresmo further elaborated on the tournament’s mental health considerations, including the decision to deny press their usual access to the Roland Garros players’ lounge, access crucial to speaking to coaches and former players to add value to their reporting.
“It was something that we want to take into consideration. The goal was really to, in the players’ areas, to give some space for the players where we wanted to make sure that they have their intimacy or privacy or that they are not going to be, you know — that when they can prepare the matches, that’s the area we talked about, we thought about, where they can prepare the matches in the best possible way and the most quiet, possible way.”
Specifically in regard to last year’s Osaka controversy, Mauresmo emphasised her commitment to addressing mental health issues moving forward. To inform her perspective, the new tournament director spoke with Osaka directly before this year’s Roland-Garros. “It was important for me. I think it was also important for her and to show her that, you know, it’s different, and we all have learned in one year.”
According to Mauresmo, the new policy changes have already been utilised. “And this year, again, I think it happened with Paula Badosa, she felt some problems, we adapted, no press conference. She just made some quotes and everything.” Spain’s Paula Badosa, currently ranked world No 4, left her third-round match against Russian Veronika Kudermetova after an injury to her right leg.