Naomi Osaka recently broke down in tears after she was asked a question that was deemed "intimidating" and "appalling" at a press conference. The incident happened during her first WTA press conference since she withdrew from the French Open back in May to focus on her mental health.
Prior to the insulting question asked by Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty, Osaka was doing well in answering questions by different reporters. However, when Daugherty insinuated that athletes depend on the media for their success, Osaka was thrown off guard and got emotional on the podium.
"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," he said. "I guess my question is, how do you balance the two, and also do you have anything you'd like to share with us about what you did say to Simone Biles?"
Immediately, Osaka hit back with a question of her own.
"Um, when you say 'I'm not crazy about dealing with you guys,' what does that refer to?"
Daugherty then re-phrased his question, saying she wasn't crazy about doing press conferences, but that it's the most widely used tool to "communicate with the media to the public."
After a few seconds, Osaka responded: "That's interesting. I would say the occasion, like when, to do the press conference is what I feel is the most difficult, but... sorry, I'm thinking."
"Ever since I was younger I had a lot of media interest on me because of my background, as well as how I play … I can't really help that I tweet or that I say that kind of create a lot of news articles … and I know it's because I won a couple of Grand Slams and I've gotten to do a lot of press conferences.
"I'm not really sure how to balance the two, and figuring it out at the same time as you."
But soon enough, there were tears in the tennis star's eyes and she lowered her cap so that her face was hidden. She then left the podium for a few minutes and came back to continue the conference. You could visibly see how upset she was.
Naomi Osaka reduced to tears in first press conference since French Open withdrawal
After the event was over, Osaka's agent Stuart Duguid blasted Daugherty in a statement, saying "the tone of the question was all wrong and (the reporter's) sole purpose was to intimidate," according to Ben Rothenberg.
Duguid continued: "This insinuation that Naomi owes her off-court success to the media is a myth — don't be so self-indulgent," Duguid said in his statement. "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."
Daugherty had not responded to the backlash as of yet.
The news comes just months after Naomi Osaka pulled out of the French Open over mental health issues back in May. The twenty-three-year-old refused to do any press conferences which led to the Association fining her $15,000.
In a statement announcing her withdrawal from the event, Osaka said she was leaving the tournament so that the focus could returning to the sport when she was ready.
"This isn't a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago," Osaka wrote on social media. "I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.
"I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly."
Osaka returned to tennis during the Tokyo Olympics where she participated in media conferences.