Exclusive – Greg Rusedski on the future of the tennis press after Naomi Osaka’s French Open pull-out

Kevin Palmer
Naomi Osaka looking down

Former British No.1 Greg Rusedski has insisted the media will always have a huge role to play in tennis, as he gave his verdict on the Naomi Osaka story at the French Open.

Osaka’s decision to initially refuse to speak to the media and then pull out of the tournament citing long-standing mental health issues sparked a huge debate about how the media needs to modernise to fit into the modern game.

Yet Amazon Prime analyst Rusedski does not believe big changes are needed, as he suggested players need to accept the media have a massive role to play in the promotion of the sport.

“Doing the media is part of the job,” Rusedski told Tennis365 in an exclusive interview. 

“You have a team of good people around you (to advise) and you have got to expect certain questions and if you are not ready to answer them, then take time away from the sport.

“You can’t go and play without talking to the press. 99.9 percent of the journalists are fine and you are always going to get one tricky question from time to time that you might not like.

“Overall, they are pretty respectful of the players and they need their headlines and they need to write their stories. Without the press, tennis wouldn’t be where it is today, so they are a huge part.

Amazon Prime Video Greg Rusedski, Daniela Hantuchova, Catherine Whitaker
Greg Rusedski is part of Amazon Prime’s tennis team

“Hopefully Naomi Osaka takes the time away and will be ready to compete soon. It was great that she made her statement clarifying why she pulled out and highlighting her mental health issues, but tennis players appreciate the media have a big role to play in our sport.

“The greats of the game understand that we need to promote tennis. Roger (Federer) and Novak (Djokovic) speak at press conferences in several different languages and they get it. 

“You need the people writing about you to create interest in the sport. The press will never be replaced by social media channels of the players. They will always be an important part of our sport.”

Rusedski went on to suggest there may be a case that questions of a personal nature should not be asked at press conferences, as he urged tournament organisers to resolve that problem.

“The person who is in charge of the press conference can change the questions and make sure they are respectful,” he added. 

“You don’t have to answer those personal questions. You can only say, I don’t want to answer that in a polite manner. That comes with maturity. 

“Answering tennis questions is fine and it is up to you whether you want to talk about your personal life or not.”

The cinch Championships at Queen’s Club will available to watch on Prime Video from 14th June

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