Venus Williams

Venus Williams shared her own two cents on handling the press yesterday evening, following Naomi Osaka‘s decision to pull out of the French Open.

“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,” Williams said. “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.”

Related article: Serena Williams, Russell Wilson, And More Top Athletes Show Support For Naomi Osaka

Williams’s remarks reference the buzz surrounding Osaka’s withdrawal from Roland Garros after she refused to answer to the press ahead of her second-round match against Ana Bogdan, citing mental health concerns. Osaka was consequently fined $15,000 and threatened a default if she continued to skip out on her “media obligations.” Osaka instead resolved to pull out of the tournament altogether, releasing an official announcement of her withdrawal on Instagram and Twitter.

In her message, Osaka expressed that she had been dealing with “bouts of depression” since her 2018 US Open win and that she believes the rules of media to be “quite outdated in parts.”

She also shared, “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 apologize 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 to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences.”

Related article: Naomi Osaka Has Decided To Pull Out Of The French Open To Focus On Her Mental Health

Williams vocalized her public support for Osaka’s decision, commenting on her Instagram post, “So proud of you. Take care of yourself and see you back winning soon! ❤️❤️❤️”

Days ago, her older sister, fellow tennis champion Serena Williams also spoke out at the tournament in defense of Osaka. Upon being asked about her own feelings over Osaka’s withdrawal, Williams simply responded, “The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi. I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like.”

Though Osaka is taking a hiatus from tennis, she has no plans of quitting anytime soon. “I’m gonna take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans. Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, love you guys I’ll see you when I see you ❤️,” Osaka concluded in her statement.

This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.

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