Venus Williams says she handles media pressure by remembering ‘no journalist can play as well as me’

Venus Williams of The United States plays a forehand in their ladies first round match against Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia during day three of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on 1 June, 2021 in Paris, France

Tennis star Venus Williams had a ‘mic drop’ moment at the French Open on Wednesday, when she said that not a single member of the press asking her a question can play as well as she can “and never will.”

She was asked how she handles the press in the wake of tennis player Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the tournament and announcement of not participating in any media activity.

Ms Williams, who is playing the French Open the 24th time, is one of the many tennis players who have shown support to Ms Osaka.

When she was asked to comment about Ms Osaka at a press conference, Ms Williams said she had her own “defence mechanism” developed over the years.

“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,” Ms Williams 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,” she added.

Her sister and tennis champion Serena Williams also spoke at the tournament in defence of Ms Osaka. “The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi,” she said. “I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like. Like I said, I’ve been in those positions.”

The 23-year-old Japanese star issued a detailed statement about how media interactions have been affecting her mental health, announcing her decision to take a break from tennis.

She said she was dealing with anxiety and “bouts of depression” since her 2018 US Open win and media scrutiny had a part to play in it.

“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 tweeted.

The four-time grand slam title winner was fined $15,000 (£10,598) on Sunday after she refused to hold a mandatory news conference following her first round win.

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