Venus Williams has delivered the biggest mic-drop moment of the 2021 French Open, giving a stinging response to why she’s never struggled at press conferences.
Speaking a day afterfollowing intense scrutiny around her decision not to do media, Williams was blunt when asked if she’d ever had any issues conducting press conferences.
“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,” she said.
“So no matter what you say or what you write, you’ll never light a candle to me.
“That’s how I deal with it. But each person deals with it differently.”
Williams has been widely praised for her response as the commentary surrounding Osaka’s withdrawal from the tournament continues.
Osaka also received support from former US Open champion Sloane Stephens following the American’s win over Carla Suarez-Navarro.
“I think instead of basically traumatizing her and making fun of her situation, we should be more accepting and allow her to take the time she needs to work on herself and better herself so she can be in a better position to play tennis and be happy,” Stephens said.
“I have read a lot of things that were just unkind and very insensitive and I just feel like there’s no room for that.
“There’s no space for negativity. There’s no room for kicking someone when they’re already down.”
Just days after, the four Grand Slams released another statement offering their full support.
“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,” the statement read.
“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.
“While players’ wellbeing has always been a priority to the Grand Slams, our intention, together with the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, is to advance mental health and wellbeing through further actions.”
The most recent statement takes a markedly different tone to the one struck last week when
“We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences,” the earlier release said.
“As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament (Code of Conduct article III T.) and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions (Code of Conduct article IV A.3.).”
Osaka, who is in doubt for Wimbledon later this month, also received support from Serena Williams after the 23-time Grand Slam winner’s first-round victory over Irina Begu.
“The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi,” Williams 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.”
“We have different personalities, and people are different. Not everyone is the same. I’m thick. Other people are thick. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently.
“You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to, in the best way she thinks she can, and that’s the only thing I can say. I think she’s doing the best she can.”