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rising storm Naomi Osaka refuses to back down as she is threatened with expulsion from French Open

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Naomi Osaka of Japan plays a backhand in her First Round match against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania during Day One of the 2021 French Open. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka of Japan plays a backhand in her First Round match against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania during Day One of the 2021 French Open. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka of Japan plays a backhand in her First Round match against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania during Day One of the 2021 French Open. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has refused to back down after French Open chiefs threatened to throw her out of the tournament is she continues her media boycott.

Osaka announced on social media ahead of the tournament that she would not be doing any press at Roland Garros, citing mental health reasons.

It has not gone down well with the tournament and drew an unusually punchy joint statement from the four grand slams, who threatened Osaka with severe sanctions should she not reconsider her stance.

The statement said: “We have advised Naomi Osaka that, should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further code of conduct infringement consequences.

“As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future grand slam suspensions.

“The Roland Garros teams asked her to reconsider her position and tried unsuccessfully to speak with her to check on her well-being, understand the specifics of her issue and what might be done to address it on site.

“The mental health of players competing in our tournaments and on the tours is of the utmost importance to the grand slams. We, individually and collectively, have significant resources dedicated to player well-being.

“In order to continue to improve, however, we need engagement from the players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experiences.

“A core element of the grand slam regulations is the responsibility of the players to engage with the media, whatever the result of their match, a responsibility which players take for the benefit of the sport, the fans and for themselves.

“As a sport, there is nothing more important than ensuring no player has an unfair advantage over another, which unfortunately is the case in this situation if one player refuses to dedicate time to participate in media commitments while the others all honour their commitments.

“Finally, all grand slams remain committed to continually reviewing and discussing opportunities, together with the tours and the players, to improve every aspect of the player experience, including with the media.

“But we consider this is only ever achieved through respectful and constructive discussions.”

Osaka has been fined 15,000 US dollars (approximately £10,000) for refusing to fulfil her media commitments after a 6-4 7-6 (4) first-round victory over Patricia Maria Tig, but she hit back to that punishment with this tweet:

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Osaka's media ban has been widely criticised in the tennis community as all of her fellow French Open competitors are complying wit their media duties, inspiring former world No.1 and Eurosport pundit Mats Wilander to suggest she should consider withdrawing from the tournament.

"Naomi Osaka, she should have played in the ’80s. Because when I played, we never had a press conference before the tournament started," he stated.

"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."

Meanwhile, Andy Murray's former coach Mark Petchey suggested Osaka should not be paid for her participation in the French Open if he is unwilling to fulfil her obligations as a players competing in Paris.

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