Venus Williams gave a straightfoward answer Tuesday when she was asked for perspective on how she deals with the media amid Naomi Osaka dropping out of the French Open over mental health concerns.
Williams, the older sister of Serena Williams who has won six Grand Slam titles, said she doesn’t really get affected by prodding questions from reporters.
“For me personally, how I deal with it was that I know that 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. That’s how I deal with it. But each person deals with it differently,” Williams said.
Osaka dropped out of the French Open on Monday, citing mental health concerns.
She was fined $15,000 for avoiding talking with the press. She was also threatened with default from each Grand Slam tournament in a joint statement.
“This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. 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. I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” she said in a statement.
“More important I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly. The truth is that I 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 tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety.
“Though tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize 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 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 I announced it pre-emptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that. 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. I’m gonna take some time way 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 playoffs, press and fans.”
It’s unclear when she will return to the sport.