Naomi Osaka responds to heckler's mock attempt but then regrets decision

A heckler took a shot at Osaka over her decision to skip press conferences at the 2021 French Open.

by Dzevad Mesic
Naomi Osaka responds to heckler's mock attempt but then regrets decision
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Naomi Osaka hit back at a heckler over mocking her for skipping press conferences at the 2021 French Open but later deleted her post and suggested that she should not have reacted. 

As you probably know well, Osaka infamously decided not to conduct press conferences during the 2021 French Open. When the tournament started and it became clear that Osaka was indeed keen on not speaking with the media, that became the biggest storyline at the start of the 2021 French Open. That led to Osaka being fined $15k for skipping her mandatory press conference after her first-round win and she was also threatened that she could be thrown out of the tournament. 

After receiving some heavy criticism and backlash, Osaka decided to withdraw from the French Open. At the time, Osaka issued a lengthy message, in which she revealed her years-long battle with depression and anxiety. Also, Osaka apologized for drawing negative attention and said her goal was never to be a distraction.

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

"Is this the same Naomi Osaka who refuses to talk to the media and cries foul on questions that are both appropriate and necessary?" one person wrote in the comment section of one Instagram post.

Osaka noticed the comment and responded to the person by replying in the comment section: "I didn't talk for one tournament in 2021, you seem very affected by that are you ok?"

Osaka then screenshotted the person's comment and her response - posted it on her Instagram Story - and wrote: "Honestly lol cause why are some people still so hurt by something that happened to me 3 years ago."

Naomi Osaka comment
Naomi Osaka comment© Naomi Osaka - Instagram

But Osaka deleted that Instagram Story and revealed she did so after asking herself "What would Beyonce do?"

"Had to delete because WWBD (what would Beyonce do) and I know Beyonce would've been disappointed (crying emoji)," Osaka said in a new Instagram Story.

Naomi Osaka message
Naomi Osaka message© Naomi Osaka - Instagram

What led to Osaka's French Open press conference decision?

Just before the start of the 2021 French Open, Osaka announced on social media that she was planning on skipping press conferences in Paris. At the time, Osaka cited mental health and well-being concerns as the reason for that, writing she "often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health" and added that she didn't want to risk someone putting doubts in her mind. 

After starting her 2021 French Open run with a 6-4 7-6 (4) win over Patricia Maria Tig, Osaka did an on-court interview and briefly addressed the crowd and reflected on her win. But Osaka kept her word and didn't show up in the press room. Quickly, it went from bad to ugly and the whole focus was on Osaka and her press conference stance. 

The day after her opening win, Osaka announced she was withdrawing from the tournament and admitted that she wasn't too happy about the situation she created. 

"I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris," Osaka wrote in a lengthy message that was posted on her Instagram at the time.

"I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly."

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

In the same message, Osaka said she feared experiencing anxiety attacks before deciding not to do press conferences in Paris. 

"I get really nervous and find it stressful to always engage and give you the best answers I can. So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences," Osaka said in the same message. 

What Osaka said a couple of months later?

After publicly opening up about her mental health and revealing her struggles, Osaka quickly started receiving support from fellow players but also from athletes from some other sports. Also, Osaka kind of became an advocate for athletes' good mental health. But when it came to the move Osaka made at the 2021 French Open, she admitted that she "did a lot of things wrong in that moment" and acknowledged that she probably could have communicated her message and prove her point in a better way. 

"I feel there's a lot of things that I did wrong in that moment," Osaka admitted a couple of months later when she came to New York for the US Open.

"But I'm also the type of person that's very in the moment. I think there's a lot of things that I learned to do better. Of course, I don't feel the same situation will happen again.

"Whatever I feel, I'll say it or do it. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. I would say, maybe think it through a bit more, in the way that I didn't know how big of a deal it would become."

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Since then, Osaka hasn't skipped any press conferences but she remains a big advocate for the importance of athletes' good mental health. 

At the start of this season, Osaka returned to tennis after giving birth to her first child last year. Since returning, Osaka has said several times that she is now in a completely different place and that becoming a mother gave her a new perspective. When it comes to her goals, Osaka highlighted several times that she is extremely motivated to return to winning Grand Slams and being one of the best in the world. 

Naomi Osaka French Open