Tennis star Naomi Osaka broke down in tears during her first press conference since her withdrawal from the French Open in May.
The 23-year-old was fined for missing post-match media sessions. She later revealed that she’s been battling with depression and anxiety since 2018, and cited that as the reason for her decision.
But at Monday’s press conference ahead of her appearance at the Western & Southern Open in Ohio her anxiety got the better of her after a reporter asked her an “aggressively toned” question.
Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg shared what happened in a series of tweets. Rothenberg said a reporter from the local media asked Osaka “a fairly aggressively toned question about how she benefits from a high-media profile but doesn’t like talking to media.”
That’s when she started to cry. She wiped away tears with her jacket sleeve, pulled her hat down over her face, eventually stepped away from the podium.
But she returned to finish the press conference. According to Rothenberg, “the aggressive tone from an unfamiliar person, after Naomi had already spoken in an earlier answer about how that’s what she finds difficult in press conferences, got things going completely awry.”
In a statement after the presser, Osaka’s agent, Stuart Duguid labelled the reporter as a “bully”.
“The bully at the Cincinnati Enquirer is the epitome of why player / media relations are so fraught right now,” the statement read. “Everyone on that Zoom will agree that his tone was all wrong and his sole purpose was to intimidate. Really appalling behavior.”