As the sports world continues to wrap its head around the fallout from Naomi Osaka’s sudden departure from the French Open, one element of this story seems to be grossly under covered.
Did anyone notice the Gilles Moretton press conference? Did anyone outside of France even know who Gilles Moretton is prior to when he gave his short presser that should not even be called a presser?
Moretton happens to be the president of the French Tennis Federation (FFT). He also is a former player himself. He addressed the Osaka situation in front of the media in Paris and waxed poetically about how sad it was that she would not be competing at Roland Garros.
He gave a short statement – then refused to take questions from the media.
Let us get this straight. Osaka, who says she did not want to engage in post-match press conferences because she felt they were negatively affecting her mental health, was fined $15,000 for not doing a presser and was practically shoved out of the tournament by tennis’ head-in-sand powers that be. Not to mention, the four Grand Slam tournaments threatened future sanctions against Osaka if she refused to talk to the media.
But Moretton, who ought to be answering sweat-inducing questions from the press on how the sport of tennis looks out for the mental health those who play the sport (not to mention sweat-inducing questions from the press on what the sport is doing to address its racist past), gets to read some typed up statement, then leaves a press briefing without taking questions.
Does all of this seem familiar to anyone? Oh it does.
Moretton’s slovenly approach to that press conference seems awfully similar to how another man involved with women’s sports also did not, as Roland Garros once put it in one of their (sub)tweets, understand the assignment.
Remember the disparities between the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in San Antonio and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in Indianapolis? The men who descended upon the Indiana bubble were given rock star treatment. The whole red carpet was rolled out in Indianapolis.
The women barely got a weight room. In fact, that does not even mention that the women’s tournament did not even receive the iconic “March Madness” branding that the men’s tourney did.
At the center of this disparity was Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA who, thanks to that TikTok video of Sedona Prince going viral, was exposed for his less-than-lackadaisical preparation for the women’s tournament in Texas.
Emmert was caught with his pants down and a skid mark on his undies. And how did the NCAA respond? Did Emmert do the honorable thing, resign and announce that a Black, Brown, Native American or Asian woman would be succeeding him as NCAA president?
No – the NCAA actually gave him a two-year contract extension until 2025. Then, the NCAA followed up its botching of the women’s basketball tournament preparation by also botching the organization for the volleyball championships.
Just as Emmert is no ally of women’s sports and simply is involved with women’s sports for a paycheck, the same applies to Moretton. If Moretton really cared, he would have understood Osaka’s concerns and allowed her to compete at the French Open without having the fulfill something as mundane as a press conference. Last time we checked, Osaka is a tennis player and is not auditioning to be Joe Biden’s press secretary.
Now, the sport is devoid of one of its brightest, young and marketable stars for who knows how long because of archaic rules emblematic of a sport that puts John McEnroe on a pedestal, is still hurt over Anna Kournikova’s career not panning out the sport wanted and over Maria Sharapova never being able to beat Serena Williams.
Remember – tennis needs Osaka more than Osaka needs tennis.
There is a difference between a man involved with women’s sport and a male ally of women’s sports. Emmert and Moretton are simply in it for the paycheck. Thankfully for the women’s sports community, we have real allies.
Ja Morant is a real ally. Devin Booker is a real ally. DeAndre Ayton is a real ally. Kyrie Irving is a real ally. Dwyane Wade is a real ally. LeBron James is a real ally.
Kobe Bryant was a real ally.
It is easy to spot the difference between the two and thankfully the number of male allies is on the rise. But as the dichotomy the Emmerts and Morettons present, there is a huge difference between men involved with women’s sports who are allies and who are simply “all lies.”