Serena Williams offed her support to Naomi Osaka after the 23-year-old tennis champion withdrew from the French Open on Monday (May 31). During her post-match media conference, Williams said she’d like to give Osaka a hug.
“The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi,” the tennis legend said. “I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like. Like I said, I’ve been in those positions.”
As reported by REVOLT, Osaka dropped out of the tennis tournament on Monday after officials threatened to expel her over her decision to not participate in any media conferences during the event. Osaka previously said she wouldn’t be talking to the press during the tournament to protect her mental health.
“I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media,” Osaka wrote in an online statement, adding that she’s “suffered long bouts of depression” since winning her first grand slam title in 2018.
“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,” she continued. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.”
On Sunday (May 30), Osaka was hit with a $15,000 fine for refusing to speak with reporters. The four-time Grand Slam singles champion has received some backlash for not speaking to the press and dropping out of the tournament, but several other athletes, including Williams, sported her decision.
On social media, Usain Bolt, Kyrie Irving and Venus Williams applauded her for putting her well-being first. “So proud of you. Take care of yourself and see you back winning soon!” the latter sports star wrote on Instagram.
See Osaka’s statement on Instagram below.