Venus Williams has faced tough—and sometimes annoying—questions in pressers after painful losses.
Those experiences give the former world No. 1 unique insight into how Naomi Osaka is feeling.
World No. 2 Osaka withdrew from Roland Garros—and revealed she’s been battling depression since the 2018 US Open—after criticism and a $15,000 fine over her pre-tournament stance of opting out of mandatory press conferences.
In a show of support, Venus Williams posted in response Osaka’s Instagram announcement, writing: “So proud of you. Take care of yourself and see you back winning soon!”
Asked how she’s coped with challenging questions and outright criticism over a 25-year career of pressers, Venus shared a simple mental device: she reminds herself that none of her interrogators will ever play tennis to the level she’s delivered.
It’s the four-time Olympic gold-medal champion’s method for keeping criticism in perspective.
“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, so no matter what you say or what you write, you’ll never light a candle to me,” Williams said after her French Open first-round loss today.
“So that’s how I deal with it. But each person deals with it differently.”
Asked if she initiated her upcoming Roland Garros doubles partnership with 17-year-old Coco Gauff, Venus replied: “I think the feeling was mutual.”
Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve