Photo credit: Dana Gardner / Shutterstock.com
Let’s all take a moment to bow down to the goddess that is Venus Williams – as she has just issued the perfect response to the press amid all the Naomi Osaka drama.
To recap – four-time Grand Slam singles champion Naomi Osaka declined to be interviewed by the press before her second-round match against Ana Bogdan in the French Open (otherwise known as Roland-Garros) as she said that it would negatively affect her mental health.
The 23-year-old Japanese tennis pro mentioned that she had suffered from bouts of depression since her 2018 US Open win, and she found the press to be “quite outdated in parts”, which is why she didn’t want to face them on that occasion.
However, as a result of the backlash she faced from asking to not be interviewed – as well as a $15,000 fine for “failing to honor her contractual media obligations”– she decided to withdraw from the French Open altogether.
Roland-Garros issued a statement saying that by declining to be interviewed, Naomi Osaka had failed to honor her contractual media obligations and had to be fined under the tournament’s Code of Conduct. She was also reminded that “rules should apply equally to all players”.
Naomi Osaka took to social media to go into further detail about why she had decided to withdraw from the tournament…
“Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety,” she wrote on both Twitter and Instagram after it was announced that she had pulled out of the tournament.
“Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize especially to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt), I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media.
“I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can.
“So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences.
“I’m gonna take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans.
“Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, love you guys I’ll see you when I see you.”
As expected, many, many people have come to her defence – one of whom was seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams…
“For me personally, 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,” Venus Williams – who also has four Olympic gold medals under belt, among many other trophies – said on social media.
“So no matter what you say or what you write, you’ll never light a candle to me.
“So that’s how I deal with it. But each person deals with it differently.”
We are obsessed with this response!
Several people responded to Venus’s epic mic drop moment, including her sister, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams…
“I think press conferences definitely play their part,” Serena said.
“I think they’re very difficult to do at times. I’ve had my run-in with journalists, so…
“Venus said it best.”
Pink was one of the many A-listers who made her support of Naomi Osaka, and Venus’s statement, very clear on social media too…
“For whatever it’s worth-I’m proud of Naomi Osaka for putting her mental health, her well being above everything,” Pink wrote.
“If we don’t take care of our health, our wellness- well then who will?
“What do we have if we don’t have our health? Don’t we know by now that success isn’t worth our life?
“Also Venus Williams your answer to media scrutiny was everything and you are a goddess and I just love and support the people in the world DOING IT, not the ones TALKING ABOUT THOSE DOING IT. now carry on. Have a good night. Im’a make a sourdough now cause you all stress me out.”
We’re also glad to see that sponsors including Nike, Mastercard, and TAG Heuer, to name just three, have jumped to Naomi’s defence…
“Our thoughts are with Naomi. We support her and recognize her courage in sharing her own mental health experience,” Nike, who signed a sponsorship deal with her back in 2019, said.
“Naomi Osaka’s decision reminds us all how important it is to prioritize personal health and well-being,” Mastercard said in a statement.
“We support her and admire her courage to address important issues, both on and off the court.”
“Naomi is going through difficult times and we truly hope to see her back soon,” Swiss luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer added.
“She is a great champion and we are convinced that she will come out of this period stronger, be it professionally or personally.”
Some sponsors, however, including Louis Vuitton, – who Naomi became a brand ambassador of earlier this year – Japanese television broadcaster WOWOW, and French Open sponsors Rolex, Engie, and Infosys, have declined to comment on the situation (at the time of writing).
Still, we hope that Naomi feels the huge levels of support from all the people who have come to her defence.
Although as Serena Williams mentioned, Venus Williams really did say it best…