Many tennis pros have had interesting reactions to Naomi Osaka’s decision to pull out of the French Open, but Venus Williams’ might take the cake.
Namoi Osaka has faced both criticism and support after dropping out of the French Open and refusing to speak with reporters due to her mental health.
Williams’ reaction to Osaka’s decision, and subsequent conversations about media and mental health, went viral on Wednesday (June 2). After a first-round loss, Williams told reporters how she has dealt with the press throughout her historic career.
“For me personally, how I cope, how I deal with it, was that I know every single person asking me a question can’t play as well as I can and never will. So, no matter what you say or what you write, you’ll never light a candle to me,” she said. “That’s how I deal with it. But each person deals with it differently.”
Fans loved the 40-year-old’s fiery response, tweeting, “Venus Williams said your insults can’t reach me because you’re not at my level.”
“Venus Williams talking about media scrutiny is the energy I need to start bringing into every facet of my life,” another added.
Earlier this week, Williams’ tennis champion sister, Serena, also commented on Osaka’s exit.
“The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi,” she said. “I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like. Like I said, I’ve been in those positions.”
The topic of mental health in sports and media resurfaced this week when Osaka said she suffered “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to reporters and declined to participate in press conferences to protect her mental health. In a statement, the 23-year-old four-time Grand Slam winner also revealed she’s struggled with long bouts of depression since 2018.
Some reporters and athletes chastised Osaka for withdrawing and French Open officials fined her $15,000 for skipping a mandatory press conference. However, the tournament later released a statement pledging to support athletes’ mental health.
Venus Williams on how she deals with media: "I know every single person asking me a question can't play as well as I can. And never will. So, no matter what you say, or what you write, you’ll never hold a candle to me.That’s how I deal with it” #NaomiOsaka pic.twitter.com/Hm8cBQ2Rbc
— Dionne Grant (@DionneGrant) June 2, 2021
Y’all going to learn trying the Williams Sisters.