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.
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.”
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
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.”
— TENNIS (@Tennis) June 1, 2021
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.”
Prioritizing Mental health can be life saving. This is not a game. Proud of her for exercising this amount of self care even in the face of huge opposition. ❤️ https://t.co/7QYVyuAK07
— Sanaa Lathan (@justsanaa) May 31, 2021
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues like depression, resources are available here.