Naomi Osaka, who is preparing for her first tennis tournament since the Tokyo Olympics, took a brief break during a pre-tournament press conference on Monday after crying.
Osaka started the Western & Southern Open news conference in Mason, Ohio, by answering questions about mental health and doing press conferences, both of which she brought up earlier this year when she withdrew from the French Open because she didn’t want to do press conferences because of her mental health.
Following those, Osaka was asked about her preparation for the summer hard court portion of the season, as well as her reaction to what is happening in Haiti in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. Osaka’s father is from Haiti, and she said in a tweet on Saturday that any prize money she earns at the Western & Southern Open will be donated to Haiti relief efforts.
Osaka began to wipe her face and pull her hat down over her eyes during that part of the session. As Osaka became emotional, a reporter said, “Sorry,” to which Osaka replied, “No, you’re super good.”
The moderator announced that they would take a quick break because Osaka was crying. After a few moments, Osaka reappeared to complete the session. She expressed regret for leaving.
Before this unfolded, Osaka got into an exchange with Paul Daugherty, a reporter from the Cincinnati Enquirer who said, “You’re not crazy about dealing with us, especially in this format. Yet you have a lot of outside interests that are served by having a media platform.”
Later, Osaka’s agent referred to the reporter as a “bully.”
Following the exchange, Daugherty wrote a column in which he said that “in the Zoom format, there’s no room for discussion or nuance,” and that he wasn’t sure if Osaka understood the question or if it bothered her. He praised her response, calling it “honest, thoughtful, and unlike any other response I’ve ever gotten in 34 years of covering sports in Cincinnati.”
Osaka’s last competition before the Olympics was in May at the French Open. The four-time major champion and world No. 2 announced before the tournament that she would not be doing press conferences because of her mental health, knowing she would be fined.
Osaka withdrew after a statement from all four major tournaments — the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open — threatened her with further punishment, including defaulting from the tournament. She revealed she had “suffered long bouts of depression” since winning her first major title in 2018.