Serena Williams Showed Support To Naomi Osaka After She Was Criticized For Not Doing Press At The French Open

“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” the four-time Grand Slam champion wrote. “We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”

After making clear that her decision wasn’t personal to both the French Open or the journalists she’d formed good relationships with, Osaka finished: “I hope the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity.”

Osaka was then fined $15,000 for following through with her word and skipping a postmatch press conference after her first-round win.

“I think now the best 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 said in a statement. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.”

“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,” the 23-year-old went on. “Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety.”

“I wrote privately to the tournament apologizing and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the Slams are intense,” the statement finished. “I’m gonna take 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.”

In what could be argued as yet more proof of Osaka’s point about the nature of press conferences, Williams was asked about her exit from the tournament and if her reaction on court — placing her hand over her heart — was a farewell.

“I don’t know – if I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone,” she said. Moments later, a visibly emotional Williams fought back tears before putting an end to the questions, simply saying: “I’m done.”

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