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Novak Djokovic Lectures Olympians Dealing With Pressure—Then Throws Epic Tantrum After Losing

Novak Djokovic Lectures Olympians Dealing With Pressure—Then Throws Epic Tantrum After Losing
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images; Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

It's been nearly a week since Olympic gymnast Simone Biles decided to withdraw from events at the Tokyo games for mental health reasons, but the indignation over her decision—almost entirely from White men—shows no signs of abating any time soon.

And top-ranked tennis champion Novak Djokovic has, even if inadvertently, thrown this drama into even starker relief.

After just days ago giving a speech to the press about dealing with pressure in elite sports, Djokovich had an on-court meltdown, seen below, and withdrew from further competition after losing an all-important tennis match in Tokyo over the weekend. And the wildly different responses to the two athletes has the internet crying foul.

To be sure, Djokovic was under enormous pressure this weekend. The Serbian champion was on the precipice of being the first tennis player in history to finally land the so-called Golden Slam: winning Wimbledon, the Australian, French and U.S. Opens, and an Olympic gold medal all in the same year.

Earlier last week, Djokovic seemed ready for the competition, talking to the press about the "privilege" of pressure in elite sports.

"Without pressure, there is no professional sport..."
"If you are aiming to be at the top of the game, you better start learning how to deal with pressure. And how to cope with those moments on the court but also off the court, all the expectations."

Djokovic went on to pointedly claim that the pressure doesn't even get to him anymore.

"All that buzz and all that noise is something that I can't say I don't see it or I don't hear it. Of course, it's there, but I've learned, I've developed the mechanism how to deal with it in such a way that it will not distract me and will not wear me down."

Though Djokovic never mentioned any athlete other than himself, many felt the subtext was clear and interpreted his comments to be subtle swipes at Biles, who ignited a firestorm after withdrawing from the Tokyo Olympics just days before Djokovic's comments. Biles has been the subject of a sustained wave of online criticism and outright bullying, almost exclusively from White men, ever since.

Whether his comments were directed at Biles or not, Djokovic's "mechanism" for dealing with pressure was nowhere to be found on Saturday during his all-important match against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.

As the score of the match continued slipping away from him, Djokovic hurled his racket into the stands and smashed another against the net. He then dropped out of the mixed doubles competition citing an injury, leaving his partner Nina Stojanovic high and dry.

It was a stark contrast to Biles, who gracefully navigated her difficult decision and has ever since been a fixture in the stands during her teammates' competitions, cheering them on from the sidelines.

And on Twitter, people wasted no time pointing out the unavoidable difference between the two champions.

Djokovic has such a long history of racket-smashing outbursts on the tennis court that there are entire video compilations of him doing so on YouTube. He might want to heed his own advice.