Tennis champion Naomi Osaka broke down in tears during her first press conference since withdrawing from the French Open in June due to mental health issues. Osaka spoke to reporters earlier this afternoon prior to her start at the Western & Southern Open in Ohio later this week. Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times reports that Osaka had answered several questions before Paul Dogherty of The Enquirer asked "a fairly aggressively toned question about how she benefits from a high-media profile but doesn't like talking to media."
"The topic itself wasn't terrible, but 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," Rothenberg tweeted.
Osaka attempted to answer the question before moving on to another question. While the following reporter asked a question, it appears that Osaka began to cry and a moderator with the World Tennis Association stepped in. The press conference was paused for a moment before Osaka walked back in to answer the remaining questions.
As previously mentioned, Osaka has struggled with managing her mental health while dealing with "aggressive" media members. These issues reached a boiling point when she was forced to withdraw from the French Open because she opted to pay the fine instead of participating in open press availability.
After the press conference, Osaka's agent, Stuart Duguid, issued a brief statement addressing the matter. He referred to the reporter as a "bully" who exhibited "appalling behavior."
"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."
Osaka did not issue a statement after the press conference, but she will return for a second-round match at the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. ET