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Naomi Osaka sobs during press conference after reporter asked her ‘aggressively toned’ question’

Naomi Osaka‘s first press conference since her controversial decision at the French Open to refuse questions from reporters resulted in tears on Monday. 

Osaka, who pulled out of the May competition after she was hit with fines for skipping mandatory post-match media briefings, began sobbing after she was asked ‘a fairly aggressively toned question’ about how she has benefitted greatly from media attention, while avoiding speaking to the press.

Osaka told the reporter, who was identified as Paul Daugherty, a sports columnist for the Cincinnati Enquirer, that she was proud of her decision to refuse the media briefings.

Speaking at the 2021 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati said: ‘I felt like it was something I needed to do for yourself. I felt like I holed up in my house for a couple of weeks, and I didn’t know if people would be looking at me in a different way than they usually did before. 

Tennis star Naomi Osaka’s first press conference since skipping out on media briefings at the French Open in May resulted in tears Monday

‘But I think the biggest eye-opener 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. After all that, I’m proud of what I did and I think it was something that needed to be done,’ she said.’

Osaka began to struggle moments later after the next question about her decision to donate prize money from this week’s tournament to victims of the Haiti earthquake. 

She said ‘No, you’re good,’ and paused. 

Soon after, however, she pulled her hat over her face and wiped tears away with her sleeve before quietly sobbing into the microphone. Shortly afterwards, her press officer halted the question and answer session. 

The exact wording of that question has not been shared, with a clip of Osaka answering that has been shared beginning just as she had begun to answer.

DailyMail.com has reached out to Daugherty for comment.   

Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg, who was also covering the press conference, tweeted that Daugherty, ‘asked (Osaka) a fairly aggressively toned question about how she benefits from a high-media profile but doesn’t like talking to media.  

Osaka was hit with a question about how she has benefitted from a high media profile, but dislikes speaking to the press

Osaka was hit with a question about how she has benefitted from a high media profile, but dislikes speaking to the press

She answered the question, but soon after began sobbing into the microphone, a

She answered the question, but soon after began sobbing into the microphone, a

Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg criticized the reporter as having an 'aggressive tone'

Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg criticized the reporter as having an ‘aggressive tone’

Rothenberg said the Women’s Tennis Association paused the press conference, and later answered the final question.

He scolded Daughtery for asking Osaka a question, saying, ‘the aggressive tone from an unfamiliar person, after Naomi had already spoken in an earlier answer about how that’s what she finds difficult in press conferences, got things going completely awry.’

The reporter was identified as Paul Daugherty, with the Cincinnati Enquirer. Although she answered, the press conference was paused shortly after

The reporter was identified as Paul Daugherty, with the Cincinnati Enquirer. Although she answered, the press conference was paused shortly after 

Osaka’s decision at the French Open drew some support from other athletes and figures such as Meghan Markle and Michelle Obama, but also a great deal of criticism from others, such as British media personality Piers Morgan, who called her an ‘arrogant spoiled brat’ in a DailyMail.com column.  

Osaka was fined $15,000 for missing a press conference at the French Open and was warned she would face more severe consequences if she skipped anymore – before she bowed out of the tournament altogether. 

She tweeted on May 26 that she found the post-match press briefings like ‘kicking a person while they’re down’ and hit out at organizations for continuing ‘to ignore the mental health of the athletes.’ 

Osaka wrote in an opinion piece for Time that she does ‘love the press’ but believes news conferences in the tennis world are ‘out of date and in great need of a refresh’ and asked for ‘some level of privacy and empathy’ going forward.   

‘This was never about the press, but rather the traditional format of the press conference,’ she explained about her skipping the press briefing,

‘I’ll say it again for those at the back: I love the press; I do not love all press conferences.’

Osaka hit headlines in a May 26 tweet (above) when she announced she would not speak to the media during the French Open

Osaka hit headlines in a May 26 tweet (above) when she announced she would not speak to the media during the French Open

She added that she has enjoyed strong relationships with members of the media throughout her career and has long given time to interviews. 

Osaka’s agent, Stuart Duguid, released a statement hitting out at Daugherty’s question        

‘The bully at the Cincinnati Enquirer is the epitome of why player / media relations are so fraught right now. 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.’ 


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