Piers Morgan has accused Naomi Osaka of using the "Meghan and Harry playbook" in a controversial rant that has sparked backlash from tennis fans and the wider community.
The divisive British TV personality has been a fierce critic of Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle recently, and dragged the royal couple into the Osaka saga this week.
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The Japanese tennis star withdrew from the French Open on Monday after announcing she would boycott her media commitments for mental health reasons.
Osaka revealed she's been battling bouts of depression since 2018 and said press conferences can trigger her anxiety.
Her withdrawal came after she'd previously criticised the media's treatment of athletes, which Morgan took offence to.
Osaka has since backflipped on that criticism, however Morgan isn't backing down.
Morgan tweeted that Osaka had “withdrawn because of the backlash to her attack on the tennis media for doing their job”, rather than mental health problems.
“I have a problem with high-profile people who exploit the media for huge financial gain and then attack the same media and use mental health as a weapon to silence criticism," he wrote.
“My critiques of people have nothing to do with gender or skin colour & everything to do with how annoying they are.”
Morgan also responded to critics who claimed his comments were racist in nature.
“Are high-profile women of colour exempt from criticism regardless of their conduct?" he tweeted.
"Sorry, I must have missed that woke memo! The people I’ve criticised most harshly in the past year are Donald Trump & Boris Johnson and last time I checked, they were identifying as white men.
“What journalist will dare criticise Naomi Osaka ever again? She’s got what she wanted - no more criticism, only praise.
“Meanwhile all her fellow tennis professionals will continue to fulfil their contractual obligations to the media & get criticism when deserved. This seem fair?"
Morgan's rant sparked widespread backlash, with some labelling his comments "disgusting" and a "disgrace".
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After initially threatening to disqualify Osaka if she didn't reconsider her boycott, the Grand Slam board has now softened its stance and offered their support.
On Tuesday, the four grand slam tournaments released a joint statement commending Osaka for sharing her experience and promised to make things better for players.
"We wish to offer Naomi Osaka our support and assistance in any way possible as she takes time away from the court," the statement read.
"She is an exceptional athlete and we look forward to her return as soon as she deems appropriate."
While her original stance had earned the Japanese 23-year-old little backing from her fellow professionals, most saying that dealing with the media was part of the job, her withdrawal triggered a wave of support from around the world.
"The first thing to be considered is Ms. Osaka's health. I wish her the earliest possible recovery," Japan Tennis Association executive director Toshihisa Tsuchihashi said on Tuesday.
Japanese sponsor Nissin Foods wished Osaka a quick recovery while the world's biggest athletic shoe maker, Nike, lauded her for her courage in sharing her mental health experience.
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