Venus Williams gives cutting response to Naomi Osaka French Open row


Williams responded to how she deals with the media (Picture: Getty/French Open)

Venus Williams gave a sassy insight into how she deals with the media in light of 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 to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences. I announced it preemptvely because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that. I wrote privately to the tournament apologising and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the slams are intense.’

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MORE : Agree with Naomi Osaka or not: Tennis has shot itself in the foot over media blackout


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