- Naomi Osaka withdrew from the Roland Garros after receiving condemnation from the heads of the Grand Slams for not wanting to do press conferences.
- Osaka is the favorite to win the US Open in August.
- She is also one of the top five players on the odds boards to win Wimbledon.
LAS VEGAS - Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka made headlines by withdrawing from the Roland Garros, otherwise known as the French Open.
Osaka was the second seed in the tournament - her decision not to play altered odds boards across the online sportsbooks.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
The sportsbooks have odds on whether Osaka will miss further tournaments, but in order to fully grasp the situation, a summary is in order.
Much has been made of the controversy surrounding Osaka’s withdrawal, which was in response to a fairly biting statement by the heads of tennis’ Grand Slams stating that she would not be able to avoid the tennis media.
Osaka is the latest in a run of athletes who have noticed that the media in their specific sport is not helpful to their game, nor their mental state.
Marshawn Lynch’s famed “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” press conference falls into this category, making a mockery of the concept of media availability as something useful to anyone.
Many suggested that Osaka adopt the Lynch approach, although it’s worth noting that Lynch did not escape with reputation intact.
In fact, even as late as 2020, Lynch was condemned by Princeton students after being brought on as a Class Day speaker for his obstinate attitude towards the media - clearly referencing this press conference.
The head of the French Tennis Federation, Gilles Moretton, described Osaka’s desire not to attend press conferences as a “phenomenal error”.
After Osaka’s withdrawal, Moretton gave a press conference of his own, in which he read a prepared statement.
“We are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka. The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland Garros is unfortunate,” Moretton read aloud. “We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery. We look forward to having Naomi in our tournament next year. As all the Grand Slams, the WTA, the ATP, and the ITF, we remain very committed to all athletes’ wellbeing and to continually improving every aspect of players’ experience in our tournament, including with the media, like we have always striven to do.”
Moretton then left without taking questions - the exact thing that Osaka was asking for permission to do.
This leaves the situation in limbo. Will Osaka return to tennis in time for the next Grand Slam, Wimbledon?
Odds to Win 2021 Women's Wimbledon
- Ashleigh Barty +700
- Serena Williams +750
- Bianca Andreescu +800
- Naomi Osaka +800
- Petra Kvitova +800
The online sportsbooks have her as one of the top five contenders to win the entire tournament, with her +800 odds close behind Ashleigh Barty and Serena Williams.
The sports betting markets do seem to believe that she will be playing, however. There are odds available on whether she will play in the US Open, which comes after Wimbledon.
The odds suggest that she will, to the point that there is no way to wager on her playing - only a “No” option.
Naomi Osaka To Play In The 2021 US Open
- No +550
For the US Open, Osaka is the outright favorite by a significant amount, and the online sportsbooks show no signs that she is not expected to play.
Odds to Win 2021 Women's US Open
- Naomi Osaka +400
- Ashleigh Barty +800
- Bianca Andreescu +900
- Serena Williams +950
All the evidence on the online sportsbooks points toward Naomi Osaka playing in the next few Grand Slams.
But with the heads of all four Grand Slam tournaments condemning her decision to not do press conferences, one wonders what a resolution to this situation even looks like.
Time will tell.