sports

Naomi Osaka won the Australian Open. So why were some people obsessed with her face?

When Naomi Osaka beat Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open she became the new women’s world number one, however, the behaviour of a sports commentator during a post-match interview is dominating news of her win.

Channel Nine presenter, Tony Jones is being criticised for his confusing questions and comments directed at the 21-year-old.

Referring to her $4.1 million prize money he said “we would love you to pump that back into the economy,” which raised a few eyebrows.

He continued by saying, “It’s a very big trophy by the way, I’m not sure how you carried it all that way.”

But it was a remark about her expression that is perhaps the most uncomfortable.

“There we go, we saw some teeth. Sam Smith, we are not seeing too much of a smile. I think that she is in shock,” he said as Osaka entered the Nine studio, while interjecting with “there’s the smile!” mid-interview.

While Osaka gracefully replied with a nonchalant, “I’m always smiling,” viewers at home took note of his behaviour and denounced his comments on Twitter:

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In light of this situation, the question needs to be asked as to whether these comments would be made to a male tennis champion like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal and the answer is probably not. You simply wouldn’t ask a man why they didn’t ‘smile more,’ after their grand slam victory, but the expectation to be constantly bubbly and happy is consistently shackled onto women, even after they’ve played hours of physically intense sport.

Clearing up the scepticism, Osaka set the record straight during her most-match interview with Wide World of Sports and said that in order to break her tie against Kvitova in the third set, she had to dig deep into a “robotic” state – a tactic that clearly worked.

“I was just executing my orders. I don’t know. Like, I just did what I’ve been practising my whole life in a way. I didn’t waste any energy reacting too much,” she said.

“Maybe the next day I’ll think about it more. But for me, I don’t know, like I still feel very shocked. Like, I felt like the match wasn’t completely done, but it was done, you know? It’s one of those moments where you’re fighting so hard. When it’s finally over, you’re still in the state of, like, competitiveness.”

Osaka puts her energy into being an elite athlete first, and sporting personality second – still focussed on the match rather than the victory.

“Yeah, I mean, I forgot to smile. I was told to smile and I didn’t,” she said.

“I was panicking. Yeah, I’m going to be thinking about that for the rest of today.”

Not that she needs to.

Tennis behaviour in real life… it’s a bit weird.

Video by MMC

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