Naomi Osaka Breaks Down in Tears, Walks Out of First Press Conference Since Withdrawing from French Open for Mental Health Concerns

 In her first press conference since withdrawing from the French Open citing mental health concerns, tennis superstar Naomi Osaka was reduced to tears before stepping away from the podium.

According to Ben Rothenberg, tennis reporter for the New York Times, Osaka was triggered by “a fairly aggressively toned question about how she benefits from a high-media profile but doesn’t like talking to media.” Rothenberg later identified the reporter as Cincinnati Enquirer sports columnist Paul Daugherty.

“The bully at the Cincinnati Enquirer is the epitome of why player / media relations are so fraught right now,” Osaka’s agent Stuart Duguid released in a statement. “Everyone on that Zoom will agree that his tone was all wrong and his sole purpose was to intimidate. Really appalling behavior. And this insinuation that Naomi owes her off court success to the media is a myth – don’t be so self-indulgent.”

Osaka was visibly upset as she wiped tears from her eyes before it was announced they would take a quick break from the press conference. The Japanese-born tennis star then stood up from the podium and walked off camera.

According to Rothenberg, Osaka did return to finish the press conference for this week’s Western & Southern Open in Ohio. Osaka recently announced she will donate her prize money from the tournament to Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

In May, Osaka announced she did not want to participate in media sessions during the French Open because of mental health concerns. After her decision was criticized by many in the media, the tennis star decided to withdraw from the tournament. She opted out of Wimbledon as well and returned to on-court competition in the Tokyo Olympics, where she also served as the final torchbearer.

“I was a little bit embarrassed to go out because I didn’t know if people were looking at me in a different way than they did before,” Osaka said during her Monday press conference. “I think the biggest eyeopener was going to the Olympics and having other athletes come up to me and say they were really glad that I did what I did.”

Prior to representing her country at the Olympics, Osaka was harshly criticized by Megyn KellyClay TravisPiers Morgan and others for her ability to pose on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, but cited anxiety when speaking to the media.

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