Osaka, who said the nature of the questions can affect players’ psychological wellbeing, has received some support from several athletes but has been criticized by the French Tennis Federation for their stance.
Some of their rivals also questioned their decision ahead of the start of the Roland Garros tournament with the 2019 champions Ashleigh Barty Press conferences are “part of the job”.
American grandeur Serena Williams, Osaka has the highest profile of any tennis player, and their decision has put the WTA in a difficult position.
“Mental health is of the utmost importance to the WTA and to every single person,” the organization said in a statement on Friday. “We have a team of professionals and a support system that takes care of the mental and emotional health and wellbeing of our athletes.
“The WTA welcomes a dialogue with Naomi (and all players) to discuss possible approaches that can help an athlete cope with mental health issues.”
However, it stressed that it also has a responsibility to fans and the public, adding, “Professional athletes have a responsibility to their sport and their fans to speak to the media around their competition to give them the opportunity to share theirs Sharing perspective and telling their story. “
Retired Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg, former tennis player Zina Garrison and British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith have expressed their support for Osaka.
But Barty repeated the opinion of the No. 1 man in the world Novak Djokovic, who said post-game press conferences are uncomfortable but part of the job.
“We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players,” Barty told reporters on Friday. “I can’t really tell how Naomi is feeling or what decisions she makes.
“Of course, press conferences are sometimes tough, but I don’t mind either. That certainly doesn’t keep me up at night, what I say and hear or what you ask me.”
reigning champion of women Iga Swiatek was also asked about Osaka’s decision.
“I don’t find it difficult,” she said. “It gives us the opportunity to explain our perspective, so I think it’s good.”
The president of the French tennis federation, Gilles Moretton, described Osaka’s approach as a “phenomenal mistake”.
“What is happening, in my opinion, is unacceptable. We will obey the laws and rules on penalties and fines,” he said. According to the Grand Slam rulebook, players can be fined up to $ 20,000 for skipping a media conference, but Osaka said it was ready to accept any sanction.
Osaka said she hoped the “substantial amount” she was expecting to go to a mental health charity.
“I’m writing this to say I won’t be doing any press during Roland Garros,” Osaka, who lives in the US, wrote on Twitter. “I often feel that people don’t consider athletes’ mental health and that’s true whenever I see or attend a press conference,” she added.
“We often sit there and ask questions we’ve been asked several times and I just won’t expose myself to people who doubt me.”
Osaka, which has earned $ 55.2 million in the past 12 months according to sports business website Sportico, has historically used its platform and considerable media coverage to raise awareness of issues of police violence and racial inequality.