American star Venus Williams said Tuesday she has never suffered at press conferences, telling French Open reporters: “I know every person asking me a question cannot play as well as me". Williams was responding to Naomi Osaka’s belief that post-match media inquests were harmful to her mental health and equated them to “kicking a person when they’re down". Osaka withdrew from Roland Garros on Monday. But the 40-year-old Williams said she had her own defence mechanism, developed over a career which has yielded seven majors.
“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. So that’s how I deal with it. But each person deals with it differently."
Williams, playing the French Open for the 24th time and a runner-up 19 years ago, saw her 89th Grand Slam end at the first hurdle Tuesday as Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova eased to a 6-3, 6-1 win.
Naomi Osaka said Monday she is withdrawing from the French Open following the bitter fall-out from her decision to boycott all media activity. “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," the world number two wrote on Twitter.
The 23-year-old Japanese star was fined $15,000 on Sunday and threatened with disqualification after she refused to carry out a mandatory news conference following her first round win.
She had claimed on the eve of Roland Garros that such post-match inquests were akin to “kicking people when they are down" and that they had a detrimental effect on her mental health.
“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer," the four-time Grand Slam title winner said in her statement.