Naomi Osaka says she actually "likes journalists" and speaking to them but there was a moment when she started feeling that there were people trying to "exploit" her energy. Before the start of the 2021 French Open, Osaka announced she would not be holding press conferences during the tournaments due to mental health concerns.
At the time, Osaka was ranked at No 2 in the world and coming off her fourth Grand Slam title captured at the 2021 Australian Open. After winning her French Open first-round match, Osaka conducted a short on-court interview but didn't appear in her press conference.
Osaka was then fined $15,000 and threatened with expulsion from the tournament. After that, Osaka decided to withdraw from the tournament.
Osaka on the 2021 French Open press conference controversy
"I kind of have this thing in my head that I say a lot.
I always tell myself, 'You're a Haitian, you're not supposed to have any fear.' And it's because my dad is always shouting '1804', which is the Haitian Revolution, so I say that to myself a lot. Growing up in this interview world, I have a very open character so I’m very.
Sometimes I say stuff that I shouldn’t say in the press room, and it often gets me into trouble. But it’s because I like journalists, I don’t think they know this but I like talking to them and I like clearing their questions and for me, it’s cool that someone cares enough about me to ask me questions like that.
But slowly as I started becoming more known, there have been people that I feel their energy is to exploit. So I felt myself becoming more closed-off and I felt my character changing and I didn't really like that. So at this point when I was thinking 'I need to take a break, but I can't take a break from it because then I'll get fined'
But then I thought I'd rather take the fine than go through that with my energy," Osaka said on the Mountaintop Conversations podcast, via Sportskeeda.