Tennis star Naomi Osaka briefly left the space in tears following an issue from a reporter Monday in her first news conference since she shared her psychological state struggles nearly three months ago. Osaka, 23, who is playing at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati in the week, took an issue from a Cincinnati Enquirer journalist during a Zoom news conference about how she deals with the media when she became upset.
“You’re not crazy about handling us, especially during this format, yet you’ve got tons of out of doors interests that are served by having a media platform. I assume my question is, how does one balance the two?” veteran sports columnist Paul Daugherty asked. “When you say I’m not crazy about handling you guys, what does that refer to?” she asked Daugherty.
The moderator asked Osaka if she would really like to maneuver on to a subsequent question, but she declined and asked Daugherty to repeat the question before she finished the exchange after an extended pause. “I can’t really help that there are some things that I tweet or some things that I say that sort of creating tons of stories articles or things like that. and that I know that it’s because I’ve won a few Grand Slams and I’ve gotten to try to tons of press conferences that this stuff happens,” Osaka said. “But I might also say I’m not really sure the way to balance it. I’m figuring it out at an equivalent time as you’re, I might say.”
Seconds later, she began to cry and left the space. However, she returned after a brief time to end taking questions. Her agent, Stuart Duguid, took issue with the question by Daugherty during a statement to NBC News. “The bully at the Cincinnati Enquirer is that the epitome of why player/media relations are so fraught immediately,” he said. “Everyone thereon 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 may be a myth — do not be so self-indulgent.” Cincinnati Enquirer Executive Editor Beryl Love defended Daugherty’s question during a statement to NBC News.
“We appreciate the respectful dialogue with Ms. Osaka at the news conference. it had been an easy question that we feel led to a meaningful exchange. That said, we sincerely regret that our questioning upset her in any way,” Love said. Daugherty wrote about their exchange during a column about Osaka. “She’s very human and doesn’t mind showing it,” he wrote.
Monday’s news conference was the primary for Osaka since she withdrew from the French Open after refusing to talk to the media and shared her psychological state struggles. She later withdrew from playing at Wimbledon also before deciding to compete within the Tokyo Olympics, where she was upset within the third round and didn’t medal.