Osaka’s Roland-Garros behaviour ‘unacceptable’, says Tiriac

Two contrasting views on Naomi Osaka can be found in the new edition of Tennis Magazine.

Ariake Tennis Park - Tokyo, Japan - Naomi Osaka of Japan in action

Tournament owner and former player Ion Tiriac has blasted Naomi Osaka for her reluctance to participate in press conferences, calling it “unacceptable”.

“It is unacceptable!” said Tiriac when asked about Osaka’s claims of burnout when it came to dealing with the media.

“I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, but leaving the French Open on a whim is beyond me.”

In an interview featured in the new edition of Tennis Magazine, the Romanian businessman who owns the Mutua Madrid Open criticised the Japanese star’s behaviour at and departure from Roland-Garros in 2021 – and compared her unfavourably to some of her predecessors who he described as great players as well as great champions.

“She’s a good tennis player, but she’s not Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, or Serena Williams. And she can’t afford to insult everyone like she did!

“There’s a difference between a great player and a great champion. A great champion must be the same on and off the court. To do what she did at the age of 23, I find that incomprehensible. Let’s not forget that 5 or 10 per cent of her earnings come from her success on the court, and everything else she earns is off the court.”

Micky Lawler, WTA president: “They earn a lot of money and are public figures, but we have to ask ourselves if there are things to improve”

In the same edition, WTA president Micky Lawler was rather more sympathetic to the former world No 1.

Reflecting on the episode during the French Open, she said: “Regarding Naomi, looking back, I think we could have made slightly different decisions. Maybe she didn’t realise that there were a lot of people were willing to help her – because everyone was ready to do it, both the FFT and the WTA.

“I think that female tennis players, and female athletes in general, do not have the same development as their male counterparts. Tennis is an isolated isolated, rather solitary world. Often, girls do not go to school during their their teenage years, and their human development takes place in isolation. When they get to the WTA Tour and have the kind of success that Naomi has had, I think that sometimes there is not enough teamwork, to measure and gauge decisions. The players are
young and don’t have the necessary maturity. It’s a very hard road, it’s not something you learn in a snap of your fingers.

“What we learned from Naomi’s case at the French Open is that maybe you have to change things. Maybe it’s not necessary to have press conferences after every match, because players have a lot of responsibilities, they also have to deal with their social networks and so on. Yes, they earn a lot of money and are public figures, but we have to ask ourselves if there are things to improve. For me, the answer is yes.”

Tennis Magazine N°517
Tennis Magazine N°517
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