Tarlin and Mike are back to draw lessons learned from Naomi Osaka’s recent withdrawal from the 2021 French Open citing mental health concerns around appearing for press conferences. We dig into this kerfuffle with the leadership of Roland-Garros over her decision to skip press conferences so she could focus on tennis and run it back to recent tennis history with Naomi’s first Grand Slam title at the 2018 US Open versus her idol, Serena Williams. That match is emotionally challenging to watch and it clearly has had a profound impact on Osaka that we wanted to explore more deeply.
Whether it’s the tennis of the match itself, the cringe-worthy umpiring controversy between Serena and umpire Cesar Ramos, the equally painful to watch Trophy Ceremony, or Naomi’s post-match press conference in 2018, we explore all the angles to try to understand and empathize with where Naomi is coming from.
Along the way, we dig into other famously awkward media appearances by Allen Iverson, Marshawn Lynch, Rasheed Wallace, Greg Popovich, and Bill Belichek before concluding with our thoughts on mental health awareness and the recent trend towards its destigmatization in sports. Naomi is taking a stand here as a role model and leader in Gen Z and we want to recognize her courage as we look to learn from the history contentious relationships between athletes like Naomi and the press.
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