World No. 2 Naomi Osaka generated international headlines Wednesday when she announced via social media she won't participate in any news conferences when the French Open begins Sunday and cited mental health concerns in her explanation.
In a statement emailed to the Associated Press (h/t NBC Sports), the WTA responded and said it's willing to listen to concerns from players but also made it clear media obligations aren't voluntary.
"The WTA welcomes a dialogue with Naomi (and all players) to discuss possible approaches that can help support an athlete as they manage any concerns related to mental health, while also allowing us to deliver upon our responsibilities to the fans and public. Professional athletes have a responsibility to their sport and their fans to speak to the media surrounding their competition, allowing them the opportunity to share their perspective and tell their story."
World No. 1 Ash Barty seemed to agree with the second half of the WTA's statement when speaking with reporters.
"In my opinion, press is kind of part of the job," Barty said. "We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players. … At times, press conference are hard, of course, but it’s also not something that bothers me. … For me, personally, doesn’t keep me up at night what I say and hear or what you guys ask me. So I try and make it a little bit lighter and have a bit of fun with you guys."
D'Arcy Maine of ESPN reported Wednesday players can be fined up to $20,000 for skipping a news conference during a Grand Slam. In her Wednesday statement, Osaka said she wants any fine money she pays related to press obligations to go to "a mental health charity."