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Venus Williams Offers Mic Drop Response On How She Deals With Press After Naomi Osaka's French Open Exit

Venus Williams Offers Mic Drop Response On How She Deals With Press After Naomi Osaka's French Open Exit
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Venus Williams weighed in over the controversy surrounding four-time Grand Slam singles champion Naomi Osaka's decision to back out of appearing in press conferences at the French Open.

After fines were levied and Osaka was attacked in the press by people like Piers Morgan, the young tennis star opted to withdraw from the tournament.

Osaka explained her decision on social media and admitted she has struggled with "long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018" and experienced "huge waves of anxiety" from the pressures of press conferences.

She eventually withdrew from the tournament after being fined $15,000 for skipping a post-match press conference after her first-round victory.

The Grand Slam rulebook dictates players are required to attend press conferences, but the 23-year-old Haitian/Japanese pro tennis player believes the mandatory protocol is outdated.

Her decision to drop out triggered quite a stir on social media.

She gained support from fellow athletes but simultaneously sparked a debate on the approach to protecting the mental health of professional athletes who face scrutiny from the press while focusing on their competitive performances.

Williams shared her own experiences and coping mechanisms when facing reporters.

At a post-match press conference following her first-round loss to Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrova, Williams told the press:

"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."

The former number 1 in both singles and doubles added:

"So no matter what you say, or what you write, you'll never light a candle to me."

Twitter was here for her response.

A day earlier, Williams' sister, Serena—who lost the women's title in the 2018 U.S. Open final match against Osaka—also empathized with what Osaka was going through.

"I feel for Naomi. Not everyone is the same. I'm thick. Other people are thin. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently."

Last Wednesday, Osaka explained why she made the decision not to speak to the press.

I've watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room, and I know you have as well."
"I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they're down and I don't understand the reasoning behind it."

Following Osaka's withdrawal from the tournament, the leaders of the four Grand Slam tournaments—which include the French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, and Australian Open—issued a statement on Tuesday offering support for Osaka after they initially threatened to possibly suspend or disqualify her.

"On behalf of the Grand Slams, we wish to offer Naomi Osaka our support and assistance in any way possible as she takes time away from the court," read the statement.

"She is an exceptional athlete and we look forward to her return as soon as she deems appropriate."
"Mental health is a very challenging issue, which deserves our utmost attention. It is both complex and personal, as what affects one individual does not necessarily affect another."
"We commend Naomi for sharing in her own words the pressures and anxieties she is feeling and we empathize with the unique pressures tennis players may face."