Naomi Osaka has been the talk in the tennis community since the past week, after her decision to skip the press conferences at French Open 2021 created a massive uproar. After her victory in the first round in Paris, Osaka decided to withdraw herself from the tournament, citing mental health issues.
She has received huge support from various sports personalities, which includes Lewis Hamilton. Judy Murray, Andy Murray’s mother spoke in favor of Naomi Osaka and stated that the media can be extremely demanding at times.
“Naomi Osaka’s press-conference boycott has divided a lot of people but I find myself coming down on her side,” Murray wrote in a column published in The Telegraph on Wednesday.
“I have always felt that the media demands on tennis players are extremely high –- probably more so than in any other sport. Being afraid of facing the press, being tripped up by a curveball question, being trolled on social media, the loss of privacy: these public-facing elements of the job are an underestimated source of stress,” she wrote.
It’s hard for any young athlete: Judy Murray on the pressure of press-conferences
Judy Murray stated that it is very difficult for the younger players to cope with the pressure of the media, and especially for younger girls.
“How many young people do you know who would be comfortable addressing or being questioned by a roomful of very much older strangers? It’s hard for any young athlete, but especially so for girls. They look up and see dozens of middle-aged men, people they can’t easily relate to, and who lack experience of playing the game,” Judy Murray added.
Judy Murray also spoke about Andy Murray’s struggles with the press, and how the Briton was asked unnecessary questions. “He wanted to compete in big stadiums in front of huge crowds, not to be asked about whether his shorts were too big, or whether he should get a haircut, have a shave or smile more often,” the Scot added.
Lastly, Judy Murray hopes that tennis does not lose a player of Naomi Osaka’s quality due to the constant media pressure.
“She (Osaka) is one of a very exciting batch of young female players and I am a big fan of hers. I hope with all my heart that she can find a way of feeling more at home in this sport. It would be terrible if we reached the point where we lost her to the game,” Murray added.