'What a burn': Venus Williams' epic response to Naomi Osaka furore

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Venus Williams, pictured here responding to the Naomi Osaka furore at the French Open.
Venus Williams responded to the Naomi Osaka furore at the French Open. Image: French Open/Getty

Venus Williams has sent the tennis world into a frenzy with the perfect response to the furore surrounding Naomi Osaka's French Open withdrawal.

Osaka revealed on Monday that she's been suffering from bouts of depression since 2018 and that press conferences can often trigger anxiety.

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Faced with being kicked out of the French Open if she didn't reconsider her boycott of media commitments, Osaka decided to withdraw to protect her mental health.

The saga has sparked fierce debate around mental health and the role the media plays in professional sport.

But Williams arguably offered the best take yet at Roland Garros on Tuesday.

Speaking after her first-round loss to Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrova, the 40-year-old opened up about how she deals with scrutiny from the media.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

Tennis fans and pundits erupted over the epic response, with TV presenter Nicky Crosby calling it a major "burn" for the press.

“I can’t love this anymore from Venus Williams. What a BURN!!” she wrote.

Yahoo Sports writer Liz Roscher tweeted: “Venus is a legend, now and forever.”

The oldest woman at Roland Garros this year, Williams was knocked out in the first round of the French Open for the fourth year running.

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Sponsors and athletes support Naomi Osaka

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 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.

Naomi Osaka and Venus Williams, pictured here at Wimbledon in 2017.
Naomi Osaka and Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2017. (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

"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.

French star Gael Monfils weighed in after his first-round win at Roland Garros.

"We need Naomi. We need her definitely to be 100 per cent," World No.15 Monfils told a press conference.

"We need her back on the court, back on the press conference, and back happy. You know, that's what we need."

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.

with AAP

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