Elena Rybakina unfairly ridiculed for press conference gone bad

In a post-match French Open press conference, Rybakina wanted no part of reporters questions.
Elena Rybakina was slammed for bad press conference
Elena Rybakina was slammed for bad press conference / Tim Clayton - Corbis/GettyImages

Elena Rybakina has been a bit testy with reporters lately. Maybe she gets tired of answering the same questions over and over and having to do so as part of the grind of playing professional tennis. She has to fit questions in between matches, practices, preparation, and simply living her life. After one press conference at the French Open turned confrontational, the media is now going after Rybakina.

The incident occurred after Rybakina's first-round match - her first in about three weeks. Maybe the Kazakhstani was tired after match and shaking off a bit of rust. Maybe she just does not enjoy having to be questioned immediately following matches.

To be fair, that part is a little weird logically. It is kind of like, "What happened out there?" To which anyone could say, "Didn't you watch?"

Media unfairly criticizes Elena Rybakina for bad press conference

Obviously, reporters have a job to do when asking their questions. That is part of how they get paid. Lob and Smash is a tennis site, and part of our job is to report on the same things every other site reports on. We hope we offer a different - and enjoyable - point of view, of course, but the topics are often the same.

In the press conference, Rybakina told reporters, "The questions are quite the same, so I don’t know what to say anymore...Simple questions, simple answers. So, guys, something else?"

No one likes to be held to account at their jobs, especially by someone who is not their boss. The media's proverbial feathers getting ruffled was expected. However, one does have to ask if reporters should not take Rybakina's comments personally. Maybe the issue wasn't an attitude, but the reporters too easily had their feelings hurt.

For instance, tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg said on X/Twitter about Rybakina's press conference, "...honestly, for a player to whine about not getting prime court slots and media and then to be aggressively insolent in press when folks are trying to make her interesting...just a fundamental ignorance of how to succeed in the entertainment industry...And this is an established pattern with Rybakina particularly, to be clear…entitlement and resentment about not thriving in this part of the job without putting in any effort to do this part of the job."

There is a lot wrong with what Rothenberg wrote. First, "aggressively insolent" is a bit silly. Maybe Rothenberg did not like what Rybakina was saying, but the tennis player was calm in her manner and not "aggressive" in any way. That is Rothenberg being frustrated and not a true indication of Rybakina's mannerisms.

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Secondly, sports are not really a direct "entertainment industry." Players are paid by the number of matches they win and sponsorships. Their job is not simply to entertain us on the court. If they play well and the matches are competitive, tennis fans will be entertained. The entertainment aspect is simply a by-product of the sport. A player can win a lot and be boring to watch. They are still going to make good money even if they fail to entertain.

Lastly, does Rybakina truly owe reporters anything? She does not have to put effort into her answers but is forced to do press conferences. Her real job is to try to be a great tennis player. Maybe she does not care for others to try to make her "interesting." Plus, a reporter's job is to make their own words interesting, not specifically the player. Report on facts and observe, but don't get one's feelings hurt if the player refuses to play along with questions.

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