Venus Williams reacts to Naomi Osaka’s French Open withdrawal. Williams, who was
thumped 6-3 6-1 in the first round of the tournament by Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova,
has not been one to mince her words with the press in recent years, largely sticking to
short, sharp answers.
The 40-year-old, who has won seven Grand Slam singles titles in her illustrious career,
was questioned over how she deals with press conferences after Naomi Osaka, the world
No. 2 with Japan, pulled out of the tournament following a row over her proposed media
blackout. And Williams took no prisoners with her – undeniably factually accurate,
if somewhat brutal – answer.
Yeah, it’s definitely not easy to do press I think for any person,’ said 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, 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.’
Osaka had been threatened with expulsion from the tournament, having already received
a fine of more than £10,000, but she took matters out of their hands by pulling out.
‘I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my
message could have been clearer,’ she wrote in a statement. ‘More importantly I would
never trivialise mental health or use the term lightly.
‘The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018
and I have had a really hard time coping with that. 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.
‘Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologise 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