‘You’ll never light a candle to me’: Venus Williams responds to media after Osaka exit

Williams received the Best Female Tennis Player ESPY Award three times, the Best Female Athlete ESPY Award, an NAACP Image Award, and the BET Award for Sportswoman of the Year among other accolades

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"Venus Williams" by Kulitat is licensed under CC BY-SA
By: Alyssa Wilson

Tennis champion Venus Williams delivered a memorable message to the media when asked about young tennis star Naomi Osaka’s exit from the 2021 French Open.  

Osaka, who was fined for not participating in a post-game press conference, said she did not want to speak to the media, citing her mental health. After being fined, she withdrew from the match.  

RELATED: Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open due to anxiety, fined $15k 

In a statement posted on Twitter, the 23-year-old revealed she had been battling depression since 2018. “The best thing for the tournament, the other players, and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” she wrote. “I never wanted to be a distraction and accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.” 

After a first-round loss to Ekaterina Alexandrova, Venus Williams addressed media scrutiny during a press conference. She said, “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. That’s how I deal with it. But each person deals with it differently.”  

Many athletes and celebrities have spoken out to offer support to Osaka, including actress Sanaa Lathan who said she is proud of Osaka for prioritizing self-care “in the face of huge opposition.”  

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues like depression, resources are available here.