American player Jessica Pegula showed her support for Aryna Sabalenka‘s decision not to speak to the media at the French Open. Sabalenka has been continuously questioned about her stance on the war raged by Russia and Belarus on Ukraine. The Belarusian was constantly bombarded with political questions by journalists taking focus away from tennis. Sabalenka had refused to answer those questions, but that did not halt the journalists at French Open. Hence Sabalenka has decided not to be present for any post-match conference from Round 4 onward.
On multiple occasions, the Belarusian was asked questions about how closely associated she is with the Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko. Though Sabalenka refused to comment, the journalists continued to pose similar questions. Jessica Pegula has lauded Aryna’s decision to stay off the press conferences as she believes it is important for Sabalenka’s mental health. “She has been hammered with questions about the war in Ukraine and Belarus’ support of Russia. She clearly felt enough was enough. I think that’s her right,” said World No. 3 Jessica Pegula.
“She has been hammered with questions about the war in Ukraine and Belarus’ support of Russia. She clearly felt enough was enough. I think that’s her right,” said World No. 3 Jessica Pegula.
Jessica Pegula believes the press has the right to be free but so does a player to refuse to talk. “It’s the right of the press to ask the questions they want to ask, but also it is her right not to answer them if she doesn’t want to answer them,” added Pegula.
Jessica added that it all started with when Naomi Osaka refused to talk to the media to protect her mental fitness. “Two years ago there was a similar issue when Naomi Osaka did not want to speak to the media to protect her mental health.” She lauded the Japanese American’s efforts to make this the new normal at tournaments.
Jessica Pegula feels player safety and press freedom have to strike the right balance
Pegula felt that there are many instances when a player doesn’t wish to speak to the media. A player should be given the opportunity to do take that decision. She herself chose the option of giving her comments through WTA and not directly to the journalists.
Jessica Pegula lost her 3rd round match to Elise Mertens in an effortless match for the latter. Post her miserable defeat, she herself chose to pull off a Naomi Osaka on the press conference. “After I had a really tough loss in the singles on Friday, I was not really in the mood to speak to the media…. I gave them(quotes) to the WTA anyway without having to do an open news conference”.
Jessica understands the role of media in a player’s success but also feels a player’s safety is equally important in tennis. “Of course, speaking to the media is important for growing the sport and connecting with fans. We wouldn’t want to lose that. But it has to be the right balance and the player has to feel safe,” concluded Jessica.
Deeksha is a Tennis writer in FirstSportz. She finds Sports ALL CONSUMING and thrives on it especially tennis. At FirstSportz she combines her love for writing and passion for Tennis to churn out some interesting content. Taking a pause from her Corporate career, Deeksha is pursuing her passion for sports and to dabble in the industry that she loves. When she is not watching tennis, she is either pursuing her training in Indian Classical vocals, traveling or just relaxing with her 3 year old daughter and her beagle
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