Boris Becker fears that the rough and tumble of modern tennis might be too much for the fragile mental state of Naomi Osaka.
The six-time Grand Slam champion German voiced his concerns during his Eurosport French Open commentary, suggesting that Osaka’s withdrawal from Roland Garros in a controversy over her refusal to meet with media might be the sign of more serious problems.
The Japanese world No. 2 withdrew after a meltdown over her decision to skip post-match media which she said damaged her “mental health.”
After pushback from tennis bosses and a fine of $US 15,000 with the threat of further sanctions, the 23-year-old announced her pullout Monday evening and said she was taking time away from the sport to heal.
“I always believed the media was part of the job,” Becker said. “Without the media, there is no prize money, no contracts, you don’t get half the cake.
“I hated the media and I didn’t like talking to journalists, but you had to do it.”
He added: “Now she is pulling out of the tournament altogether because she can’t cope with it and that raises much bigger questions for me.”
The crisis casts doubt on when Osaka might actually return to the sport – and what will transpire when she does eventually come back on court.
“She couldn’t cope with the pressures of facing the media after she loses a match, but that happens frequently and you have to deal with it,” Becker said.
“If she can’t cope with the media in Paris, she can’t cope with the media in Wimbledon or the U.S. Open. So I almost feel like her career is in danger due to mental health issues.”