Osaka revealed in the build-up to the second grand slam of the year that she would not partake in media duties, stating that "people have no regard for athletes' mental health" during news conferences.
The WTA – organizers of the women's tour – encouraged the Japanese superstar to reach out for support with her mental well-being but stressed she had a "responsibility" to her sport to honor contractual commitments.
The 23-year-old conducted an on-court interview after beating Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday but did not appear at the allotted time for her post-match media conference and was hit with a $15,000 by tournament organizers, who threatened further sanctions, including a possible suspension.
King, a 12-time grand slam singles champion, took to Twitter to outline her stance on what is proving to be a contentious issue.
"I fully admire and respect what Naomi is doing with her platform, so I am a little torn as I try to learn from both sides of the situation," wrote King, a co-founder of the WTA.
"While it's important that everyone has the right to speak their truth, I have always believed that as professional athletes we have a responsibility to make ourselves available to the media.
My thoughts on Naomi Osaka’s decision not to speak with the press at Roland-Garros. pic.twitter.com/BzvHDU3DQY— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) May 30, 2021
"In our day, without the press, nobody would have known who we are or what we thought. There is no question they helped build and grow our sport to what it is today.
"I acknowledge things are very different now with social media and everyone having an immediate ability to speak their truth.
"The media still play an important role in telling our story. There is no question that the media needs to respect certain boundaries.
"But at the end of the day it is important that we respect each other and we are in this together."
Osaka plays Ana Bogdan in round two on Wednesday.