Serena Williams supporting Naomi Osaka: ‘I wish I could give her a hug’
Tennis star Serena Williams expressed her support for fellow player Naomi Osaka on Monday after Osaka withdrew from the French Open in order to focus on her mental health.
Williams shared her concern during a press conference in which she was asked to comment on Osaka’s decision.
“I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like,” Williams told reporters. “I’ve been in those positions.”
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 31, 2021
“Everyone is different and handles things differently,” she continued. “You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to, in the best way she thinks she can, and that’s the only thing I can say. I think she’s doing the best that she can.”
Osaka made headlines over the long holiday weekend after she reportedly decided to opt out of talking to media after she won her first match of the French Open, resulting in her being fined $15,000.
On Monday, after being told that her decision to avoid the media could result in her defaulting from the tournament and future Grand Slam suspensions, Osaka removed herself from the tournament.
“I think now 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,” Osaka said in a post to Instagram detailing her struggle with depression and anxiety.
“I’m going to 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 players, press and fans,” she wrote in the post Monday. “[L]ove you guys and see you when I see you.”