Mats Wilander has given his views on Naomi Osaka's decision to step away from her press obligations throughout the 2021 French Open and he is not impressed.
Osaka made the pre-tournament decision to step away from her media duties during Roland-Garros in order to protect herself from the impact the duties have on her mental health.
But Eurosport expert Wilander believes it is a "bad move" and "not fair to the other players" with the Japanese star taking the stance.
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"Naomi Osaka, she should have played in the '80s," Wilander began. "Because when I played, we never had a press conference before the tournament started.
"But then don't go and play the tournament. Why should she be treated any differently to the other players? That's not fair to the other players.
"So she definitely has to do it. She has sponsors; she is the highest paid female athlete in the world. So we want to see great champions win, we want to see them celebrate, but we also want to be inspired by great athletes when things are tough.
We are all struggling with mental issues these days during this pandemic, but Naomi, I think you need to reconsider or, I would say, don't play the tournament until you are ready to face the job.
"In Japan, she is absolutely huge, maybe the biggest athlete that any country has ever produced. And they don't get to hear her talk. So yeah, it's really a bad move and I love what all the players are saying about it."
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Osaka made it clear on Wednesday that she would not take questions from the press at this year's French Open, saying the nature of news conferences puts an undue burden on players' mental health.
"I'm writing this to say I'm not going to do any press during Roland Garros," the Japanese world number two wrote on Twitter.
"I've often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.
We're often sat there and asked questions that we've been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I'm just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.
French Open legend Rafael Nadal and women’s number one Ashleigh Barty, said they understood Osaka's thinking but that they would continue to talk to the press.
Nadal said: "I respect it. I respect her, of course, as an athlete and her personality. I respect her decision. I don’t know. I mean, we as sports people, I mean, we need to be ready to accept the questions and to try to produce an answer, no?
"I understand her, but on the other hand, for me, I mean, without the press, without the people who normally travel, who are writing the news and achievements that we are having around the world, we probably will not be the athletes that we are today. We [wouldn’t] have the recognition that we have around the world, and we will not be that popular, no?"
Barty, meanwhile, was relatively unconcerned with dealing with the press as part of her profession and said that it never fazed her.
"We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players," she said. "I can’t really comment on what Naomi is feeling or her decisions she makes.
"At times press conferences are hard, of course, but it’s also not something that bothers me. I’ve never had problems answering questions or being completely honest with you guys. It’s not something that’s ever fazed me too much."
Nadal sees both side of Osaka media debate
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Watch all the action from the 2021 French Open live on Eurosport, eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal eyeing a remarkable 14th title at his favourite event and 2020 Roland Garros sensation Iga Swiatek aiming to replicate her stunning triumph in Paris.
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