Jessica Pegula gives credit to Naomi Osaka, defends Aryna Sabalenka French Open move

Pegula weighs in on Sabalenka not conducting a regular press conference at the French Open.

by Dzevad Mesic
Jessica Pegula gives credit to Naomi Osaka, defends Aryna Sabalenka French Open move

Jessica Pegula defended Aryna Sabalenka's decision to skip a French Open presser and credited Naomi Osaka for bringing awareness to players' mental health. Two years ago, Osaka announced she would not be conducting regular press conferences at the French Open as she wanted to protect her well-being and mental health during the tournament.

Last week, Sabalenka was twice confronted by a Ukrainian journalist and asked some very tricky questions. Following Sabalenka's third-round win over Kamilla Rakhimova, the Belarusian didn't show up in the press room, instead giving just a couple of answers to a group of selected journalists.

On Sunday, Sabalenka defeated Sloane Stephens and later gave a few answers that were redistributed to tennis media.

Pegula defends Sabalenka's decision and gives credit to Osaka

"Two years ago there was a similar issue when Naomi Osaka did not want to speak to the media to protect her mental health.

I guess the French Open are now being more empathetic about players' mental health needs surrounding press conferences. What Naomi did alerted people to the possibility of doing what Sabalenka did and for the tournament to work ways around it.

Sabalenka still found a way to do press, giving quotes to the Women's Tennis Association, which were then distributed to other reporters. She has been hammered with questions about the war in Ukraine and Belarus' support of Russia.

She clearly felt enough was enough. I think that's her right," Pegula wrote in a column for the BBC. After being confronted by a Ukrainian journalist following her first-round win, Sabalenka found herself in an even more uncomfortable situation as the same journalist returned with some pointed questions.

Sabalenka simply refused to answer the questions, saying "I've have got no comments for you." Two days later, Sabalenka said she "did not feel safe" during that press conference and the Belarusian was approved not to conduct a regular press conference in her next two matches.

Jessica Pegula Naomi Osaka Aryna Sabalenka