French Open: Naomi Osaka defeats Schmiedlova in round two
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Piers Morgan, 56, faced a furious backlash on social media after he wrote a column about tennis champion Naomi Osaka, 23, in which he branded her a “brat”. The former Good Morning Britain star compared the athlete to Meghan Markle.
It comes after the tennis star explained how interviews have affected her mental health in the past, saying she didn’t want it to impact her playing at Roland Garros.
The Tennis Grand Slam tournament leaders announced on Sunday that Osaka would be fined $15,000 for refusing to attend mandatory post-match press conferences at the French Open.
She withdrew from the tournament yesterday, revealing that she’d battled with depression since the US Open in 2018 and has had “a really hard time coping with that” as well as social anxiety.
“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,” Osaka said in a statement on social media.
Piers has since hit out at the tennis star’s decision to not speak with the press as he also claimed her $55.2 million in earnings in the past 12 months has caused her ego to inflate “to gigantic proportions”.
Writing in his latest column for the MailOnline, he said: “What Osaka really means is that she doesn’t want to face the media if she hasn’t played well, because the beastly journalists might actually dare to criticise her performance, and she’s not going to ‘subject’ herself to ‘people that doubt me.’
“This is straight out of the Meghan and Harry playbook of wanting to have the world’s largest cake and eating it, by exploiting the media for ruthlessly commercial self-promotion but using mental health to silence any media criticism.”
His comments have since come under scrutiny with people hitting out at Piers on social media.
British golfer Andrew Johnston said: “U shouldn’t be attacking her. U should be attacking the people who fined her. She’s there to play tennis. It should of been respected. Maybe take a second to think about the person first.”(sic)
Piers retweeted the post, adding: “She attacked the media for doing their jobs. As Nadal etc said this week, without media support, tennis would not be the big sport it is & the players wouldn’t be rich famous stars.”
BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker penned: “I’ve not been on socials today. Just looking at some of the grim darts being fired at Naomi Osaka.
“If someone says they are struggling with their mental health then surely our first reaction should be to listen rather than judge?”
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A social media user added: “She’s paid to play tennis. Nothing else. Why on earth does anyone care whether she does interviews or not?”
Others disagreed: “Sports personalities should always remember that, when they talk to the Press, they are really taking to the fans.”
“Professional sport is theatre, and the fans are the paying audience. It doesn’t exist without fans who are willing to pay,” a social media user added.
Osaka has since addressed her decision to pull out in a lengthy Instagram post.
She penned: “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I never want to trivialise mental health or use the term lightly.”
Osaka went on to explain that she has suffered bouts of depression since 2018 and admitted to having a difficult time coping with it.
She added: “Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologise especially to all of the cool journalists who I may have hurt) I am not a natural public speaker and get waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media.”
Piers’ column comes months after the presenter stormed off the set of Good Morning Britain, after his colleague Alex Beresford called out his “diabolical” criticism of the Duchess of Sussex.
The pair had been discussing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Alex noted the “overwhelming” amount of negative press Harry and Meghan have been subject to since they got engaged and the impact it has had on the couple’s mental health.
Piers later made the decision to step down from his presenting role, refusing to apologise for his comments made towards Meghan.
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