Tennis-'Natural' Swiatek says good relationship with media can help players

·2-min read
Tennis: French Open

PARIS (Reuters) - As the debate on Naomi Osaka's press boycott at the French Open continues to rage, defending champion Iga Swiatek said on Sunday that she was a natural in dealing with the press and having a good relationship with the media can be beneficial to a player.

Four-time major winner Osaka was fined $15,000 for skipping her news conference after her first round win on Sunday and was warned of possible expulsion from Roland Garros and future Grand Slams if she failed to meet her media commitments.

Reacting to Osaka's decision, Rafa Nadal, a 20-times Grand Slam winner, and women's world number one Ash Barty have said they believe players have a duty to address the media.

Asked if she works with her psychologist Daria Abramowicz on her relationship with the press, Swiatek, who celebrated her 20th birthday on Monday, said: "I've never felt like I need to work on that because that is pretty natural for me.

"Since I was even like 13 and 14, we had some Polish media that was always interested, that always wanted to talk with me.

"Step by step I was getting more and more experience and I was kind of learning how to have a good relationship with media ... it is not bothering me. I think the process should be the same for every tennis player."

In the run up to the claycourt major, world number two Osaka said would boycott news conferences in Paris to raise awareness of players' mental well-being, saying the nature of questions from journalists is like "kicking a person when they are down".

Swiatek went from being a largely unknown teenager to acquiring celebrity status last year when she became the youngest woman to win the French Open since Monica Seles in 1992 and the first to do so without dropping a set since Justine Henin in 2007.

Learning how to deal with the business aspects of the sport and keeping up with media obligations since becoming a Grand Slam winner has not been easy for Swiatek, however.

"It's much, much different when you suddenly get a success. It's just important to find the balance," Swiatek added.

"In my opinion, just having a good relationship in media, it can help you. If I'm going to have a problem or something, I'm going to tell you that I'm not comfortable talking with that.

"If we're going to treat each other with mutual respect, I think everybody can benefit from that."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Christian Radnedge)

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