There is no bigger name in the world of sports at the current moment than Naomi Osaka. In hopes of protecting her mental health and stability, Osaka, opted not to make herself available to members of the media during her time at the 2021 French Open. Aware that she would be fined, she said that she hopes the $15,000 payout would go toward mental health advocacy organizations. However, her decision to avoid press conferences at the 2021 French Open evolved into something much greater when representatives from the four Grand Slam tournaments issued a statement threatening to bar her from future tournaments if she does not make herself available to the media. From there, Osaka felt that it was best to withdraw from the 2021 French Open, meet with Grand Slam tournament representatives at a later date and go from there. This decision was met with backlash from the likes of Piers Morgan. In contrast, she has received much greater support from Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens.
“I feel for Naomi. Not everyone is the same. I’m thick. Other people are thin. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently," Serena Williams noted on May 31.
"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," former U.S. Open Champion Sloane Stephens said after her win against Carla Suárez Navarro on June 1.
Williams and Stephens' comments were both heartfelt and supportive, but no one had a better response than Venus Williams. When asked about how she deals with media criticism, Williams said that she's learned to handle it by remembering that she plays tennis better than anybody in the media.
“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," Williams said.
"That’s how I deal with it. But each person deals with it differently."
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