French Open organizers: 'We really tried to engage' with Naomi Osaka ahead of withdraw

When Naomi Osaka announced she would not speak with reporters at the French Open, the event organizers said they tried to speak with her about it before the No. 2 ranked player ultimately withdrew.

"We really tried to engage with Naomi several times, several ways, including on the practice courts, including in writing," said Amelie Oudea-Castera, the French tennis federation director general, via the Associated Press.

French Open organizers said during the event's closing news conference that they took a "pragmatic" approach in dealing with Osaka, who cited mental health concerns in not speaking with reporters.

French Open organizers: We purposely didn't levy highest fine

Osaka said she experienced anxiety ahead of speaking with the media after tennis matches. She said in her initial statement on Twitter she would not "subject myself to people who doubt me."

The four-time Grand Slam winner did not speak with media following a first-round victory. The French Open fined her $15,000.

Tennis players are required to attend news conferences if requested and face a maximum $20,000 fine if they violate the rules. Oudea-Castera noted on Sunday that the fine levied was not the maximum.

"On purpose we only wanted to be at 15 because we wanted to send a message that we wouldn't go to a default right away," she said. "We wanted to have a progressive escalation should she continue not to commit to her obligations."

The larger issue was not the fine, which Osaka admitted would come, it was a joint statement from the four Grand Slam tournament organizers the she faced defaults if she continued to shirk media obligations.

Organizers said they wrote to Osaka

Naomi Osaka
French Open organizers said they reached out to Naomi Osaka before they levied the fine. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Oudea-Castera said organizers attempted to speak with Osaka before they made that statement. The organizer said they wrote to her to explain the consequences.

"So we had to remind the rules of the game," Oudea-Castera said, via the Associated Press. "There is a specific book explaining that. And when you regularly default your obligations without giving specific explanations in particular, you expose yourself to a default or more permanent sanction. We wanted her to know because it was a way to protect her to explain that to her."

Oudea-Castera said organizers can "do better" in dealing with players' mental health issues and the four Grand Slam tournaments will work together on it. French Open organizers said they have taken care of Osaka since her withdraw and that she is resting in Florida with her family.

She will not compete in the upcoming Berlin WTA 5000, a tune-up for Wimbledon.

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