If you think Osaka was being irrational, I urge you to remember a few things. She is not a performer, but an athlete, and a young one at that. The truth is that her ability to give media interviews has little to do with the talent for which she is famous. It’s not what she’s celebrated for. It’s not why we know her name. That is why forcing her to choose between her mental health and a few media sound bites was entirely unnecessary. We don’t need to hear from her to appreciate her skill on the court. We do not need to drive her out of her career in order to punish her for failing to perform.
Her decision was surprising, but not entirely out of the blue. Earlier, Osaka had announced that she would be opting out of the tournament’s “mandatory” media interviews, citing mental health concerns, including a history of depression. She hoped that any fines issued would go toward mental health awareness. And, indeed, fines were issued: Osaka was penalized $15,000 for skipping her post-match news conference after her win over Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig.
And so, she quit.
In attempting to force her hand, they essentially forced her out.
Is it any surprise, then, that Osaka may not exactly welcome the public side of playing her chosen sport? Or be inclined to play nice to an audience that had treated her so poorly? Frankly, it’s no surprise at all. So why should the World Tennis Association, or anyone else, demand otherwise?
Like Prince Harry, Osaka did not entirely choose her fame.