Naomi Osaka to star in Netflix documentary as Andrew Castle warns media have a role to play

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Naomi Osaka pointing

Naomi Osaka is set to star in a Netflix documentary that will be released next month, despite her suggestion that he wants to take a step away from the sport to deal with mental health issues.

The opening week of the French Open in Paris has been dominated by Osaka’s decision to withdraw from the second Grand Slam event of the year, after she refused to take part in her media duties.

Osaka attracted huge sympathy when she revealed she has suffered from depression and mental health issues that are exasperated by her nervousness when confronted with media obligations.

Yet she will take part in an intimate film with Netflix that has seen a film crew travel with her in a bid to give fans an intimate portrait of her life.

It will travel with her to Japan to understand her connections with the country she represents, and the reflections of her multi-cultural identity.

“To be able to tell my story and let people in during this big year, working with a team that really understands me, has been a rewarding experience. It won’t look like a traditional sports documentary, and I’m so excited to share it with everyone,” said Osaka in a statement about the Netflix project.

Meanwhile, former British No.1 Andrew Castle has used his Metro column to give his views on the Osaka story, as he suggested her stance towards the media could set a dangerous precedent.

“She issued a statement before the tournament to say she would not be speaking to the media, declaring she felt stressed facing media questions in a press conference setting, was concerned over the effect this had on her mental health and she did not want to subject herself to people who doubt her,” said Castle.

“The grand slams, the four major championships, united immediately to clarify players’ commitments under the code of conduct and that includes the threat of fines and expulsion from future tournaments

What has not been mentioned enough is they sought to communicate with Osaka to clarify her position and to ask how they could help her.

“There was a ‘lack of engagement’ from Osaka and amid a media furore, she withdrew from the tournament. Osaka subsequently produced a very well thought out and well communicated statement in which she said her timing could have been better and her messaging clearer.

“She also apologised to journalists. Since then there has been an enormous amount of ill-informed debate about her situation and it now seems anybody that would question any element of what has happened so far is either racist, ageist or sexist. Typical culture wars/identity political nonsense.

“Here’s my take. I support Osaka’s quest to protect herself and I believe her when she says she has suffered waves of depression and anxiety for the last three years.

“If she can’t face scrutiny directly from the media then an accommodation must be found for her and others who feel the same.

“But the media have a right to question and even talk to these global stars and the fear is that if one player withdraws their consent then many others will follow and that would be extremely damaging to the game.

“Would we really be comfortable with a press that was only ever able to reprint what anybody said on their social media channels without interrogation? Would broadcast and media rights companies sign deals worth billions if their only product was tennis balls being hit? Absolutely not. We have to know the personality and the character of the protagonists.

“In short we have to care about the people playing and they have to care for the sport.”

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