The agent for tennis star Naomi Osaka, Stuart Duguid, said a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter was bullying the 23-year-old when he asked a question about her protecting her mental health by skipping press conferences.
During a media session on Monday, reporter Paul Daugherty pressed Osaka on that notion while attributing her celebrity to the coverage she has received. Ben Rothenberg of Racquet Magazine, who was on the video call, said Daugherty was "aggressive" in his tone. Osaka did her best to answer the question before she was overcome with emotion, leading moderators to pause the session.
In response, Duguid said Daugherty's intent was to intimidate his client.
Osaka temporarily left the room after tearing up, then returned to answer questions in both Japanese and English.
Rothenberg added that Daugherty is not a member of the traditional tennis media corps that Osaka is familiar with—further illuminating her point that the traditional press conference arrangement does not serve the best interests of both reporters and subjects.
"I've often felt that people have no regard for athletes' mental health, and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one," Osaka wrote in May before the French Open. "We're often sat there and asked questions that we've been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds, and I'm just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me."
The No. 2 overall player in the world is in Cincinnati for the Western & Southern Open and is playing in her first tournament since the Tokyo Olympics. On Saturday she announced she will donate all of her prize money from the event to relief efforts in Haiti following a devastating earthquake last week.