In an address on Reddit, which was co-founded by the husband of one of Osaka’s most high-profile backers – former champion Serena Williams – her sister confessed that the Grand Slam winner “sucks at explaining her actions most of the time”, adding that it had been “a little hard for me to see all these different opinions from everyone and not being able to share Naomi’s side even just a little bit.”
The former professional tennis player revealed that Osaka had been worn down by press conferences which she had perceived as occasions when she had been told she was bad on clay, the surface on which the French Open is played and that she has had least success on.
“Her confidence was completely shattered and I think that everyone’s remarks and opinions have gotten to her head and she herself believed that she was bad on clay,” she said, reflecting on Osaka’s first round exit at the Italian Open earlier this month.
“This isn’t true and she knows that in order to do well and have a shot at winning Roland Garros, she will have to believe that she can. That’s the first step any athlete needs to do, believe in themselves.
“So her solution was to block everything out. No talking to people who is going to put doubt in her mind. She’s protecting her mind – hence why it’s called mental health.
“I don’t know what she is going to do in the future when the tournament pushes back and threatens to default her but I fully support my sister’s actions because she’s just trying to do what’s best for her.
“Tennis players don’t get paid to do press conferences. They only get paid when they win matches.”
Players including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had responded to Osaka’s comments by pointing out the positive aspects of press coverage, and one argument put forward by Osaka’s critics was that she could afford a fine for not communicating – the $15,000 punishment she received was miniscule for one of the highest earning athletes of all time – while other players could not.
“What if they want to and she’s setting precedent so that they can in the future if wanted?” asked her sibling.
“When I lost my one WTA match where I had to do a press conference afterwards, I broke down in the room unfortunately, and then saw headlines after about me crying.
“It was embarrassing and it’s forced on players. Some can take it and some struggle with it.”
Hugely-followed tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg said he had received confirmation from Osaka’s team that the insight was the work of her older sister, who deleted the post long after many fans had captured it for social media tittle-tattle and posterity.
“OK, so I f*cked up,” she wrote in a new post, hitting back at fans who accused Osaka of attention-seeking and avoiding any talk of her sporting shortcomings.
“My words are coming across so horribly to a lot of people who think taking care of mental health is strategic.
“I didn’t emphasise the fact that Naomi is dealing with a ton of sh*t and honestly fighting for the care of mental health in my post, so now a lot of people are taking it as ‘She doesn’t want to hear criticism. I’m sorry, Naomi – I probably made the situation worse.”
Morgan, meanwhile, was as unrepentant as he was unforgiving towards Osaka for her decision to boycott her media duties during her brief spell at the French Open before quitting the tournament.
Calling Osaka’s approach “the worst kind of cynical, exploitative bullsh*t”, Morgan produced the kind of spirited defense of reporters that befits a media figure who has built his career on journalism.
Pointing to figures that suggest Osaka has made more than $55 million in the last year and claiming that she earns $6,000 an hour, Morgan said that players would not be “rich, famous stars” without press coverage and called her post about her boycott an “orgy of narcissistic twaddle”.
“We’re not angry because we don’t understand it, we’re angry because we see right through it,” he wrote for MailOnline.
“It’s the largely exultant and celebratory media coverage that’s made Naomi Osaka a fabulously rich superstar – and allowed her to be a high-profile social issue activist too, using the media to promote her support for organizations like Black Lives Matter.
“The journalists she is lambasting earn a tiny fraction of what she earns, yet nobody can point to anything that’s ever happened in a Naomi Osaka press conference which could be remotely construed as unfair, rude or potentially damaging to her mental health.
“This is straight out of the Meghan [Markle] and [Prince] 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.
“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 criticize her performance, and she’s not going to ‘subject’ herself to ‘people that doubt me.'”
When some of his millions of social media followers suggested that Morgan’s remarks had backfired after Osaka stunned the tennis world by apologetically leaving the tournament, the provocative presenter refused to back down.
“She’s withdrawn because of the backlash to her attack on the tennis media for doing their job,” he replied.
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