Naomi Osaka, the World No. 2 women's tennis player, broke down in tears before stepping away from the podium. It was her first press conference since she pulled out of the French Open and Wimbledon, reports said Tuesday.
The trigger was a question from Paul Daugherty, the Cincinnati Enquirer sports columnist, during a session for the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, which kicked off Tuesday.
Osaka found herself reduced to tears when quizzed on balancing perceived issues with press conferences with benefiting from her profile.
Daugherty prefaced his question by saying Osaka was "not crazy" about dealing with members of the media... yet "you have a lot of outside interests that are served by having a media platform," Yahoo Sports reported.
"That is interesting," Osaka said, adding when to appear on press conferences is, she feels, is "the most difficult," before pausing and tearing up.
The four-time Grand Slam champion said that she feels that is something she can't really speak for everybody and that she can only speak for herself.
She said she is unsure how to balance the issue and that she is still trying to figure out "at the same time as you are, I would say," the report said.
Osaka spoke with journalists ahead of the W&S Open, where she pledged to donate all of her winnings from the tournament to victims of the Haiti earthquake.
The media conference was momentarily halted to allow her to compose herself, and Osaka returned to answer questions in English before taking more queries in Japanese.
In the Cincinnati conference, Osaka added that it felt like something that she must do for herself as she felt like being holed up in her house for weeks and was a bit embarrassed to be seen in public again.
In May, at the French Open, she said she would not do news conferences "to protect her mental health."
She withdrew from the event and missed Wimbledon to take a breather from tennis, having experienced depression and anxiety.
In his bio on his Twitter page, Daugherty said he provokes "honestly and always have the backs of the fans."
Stuart Duguid, Osaka's agent, slammed Daugherty in a statement, calling him a "bully" with an appalling behavior and whose purpose was to intimidate people."