Tennis star Naomi Osaka broke down in her first press conference since pulling out of the French Open and revealing her struggle with depression earlier this year.
The world No2 took a break from the video call at the Cincinnati Open on Monday evening after appearing to become upset after a question about her relationship with the media.
Osaka, 23, was asked how she would balance the fact that she was “not crazy about dealing with you guys [media]” yet having “outside interests that are served by having the platform that the media presents to you”.
She responded by saying she was “really interested in that point of view”, adding: “I’m not really sure how to balance the two, I’m figuring it out at the same time as you, I would say.”
Osaka appeared composed at first but then struggled to hold back tears and the press conference was paused for a few minutes before resuming.
Her agent Stuart Duguid later criticised the motivation and tone of the question, saying its “sole purpose was to intimidate”.
The journalist, Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer, refuted the suggestion that his question amounted to bullying.
The US-based Japanese player is playing her first tournament since the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Cincinnati as she prepares for this month’s US Open.
Osaka withdrew from the French Open in June after saying she did not want to take part in press conferences.
Saying it was an exercise in self-care, she said she they triggered “huge waves of anxiety” and revealed she had suffered “long bouts of depression”.
The move triggered intense debate about athlete welfare and the role of media, sponsors and rights holders in sport.
Four-time grand slam winner Osaka said other competitors had approached her at the recent Olympic Games to thank her for her stance.