Naomi Osaka adjusts her visor on the tennis court at the Tokyo Olympics

Why Would Megyn Kelly Think It’s Appropriate To Mock Naomi Osaka’s Mental Health?

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Tennis star Naomi Osaka is one of three cover models for the new Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition. (The other covers feature Megan Thee Stallion and Leyna Bloom.) Naturally, a bunch of right-wing a-holes decided to take the opportunity to try to push her down.

A conservative trash radio host named Clay Travis appears to have been the first to weigh in, tweeting, “Since saying she’s too introverted to talk to the media after tennis matches, Naomi Osaka has launched a reality show, a Barbie, and now is on the cover of the SI swimsuit issue.”

That’s a gross misreading of both what it means to be “introverted” and Osaka’s own statements on the matter, but I’m sure Travis thought his addition to the discourse was a hilarious own.

Megyn Kelly then quote-tweeted Travis in an attempt at relevancy, adding, “Let’s not forget the cover of (& interview in) Vogue Japan and Time Mag!”

I don’t understand what kind of person hears someone talk about their mental health struggles and immediately decides to react with skepticism, let alone public derision. But I suppose I can just add that to the list of things I don’t understand about Megyn Kelly.

Osaka responded by reminding Kelly—a “journalist”—that interviews and photoshoots for a magazine cover story aren’t conducted the same day, month, or even year that magazine comes out.

“Seeing as you’re a journalist I would’ve assumed you would take the time to research what the lead times are for magazines, if you did that you would’ve found out I shot all of my covers last year,” Osaka wrote. “Instead your first reaction is to hop on here and spew negativity, do better Megan [sic].”

Soon after posting that message, Osaka deleted the tweet and blocked Kelly, which is exactly what she should do! If someone is going to insult you for not publicly performing your mental health in the exact way they deem appropriate, why would you allow them to have continued access to you?

But just like every other troll, Kelly took being blocked as a personal win and bragged about it online. (Piers Morgan did the same thing, by the way. And pretty much any time you find yourself on the same side of an argument as Piers Morgan, it’s time to reevaluate all of your choices.)

Kelly is convinced that Naomi Osaka doesn’t actually suffer from anxiety, as Osaka stated when she withdrew from French Open. In that tweet, Kelly accused Osaka of just wanting to control her interactions with the press. Which seems … valid. And accurate. And completely fine.

When Osaka withdrew from the tournament in May, she criticized the specific way in which press interacted with players in post-game press conferences. She said that whole situation is designed around “kicking a person while they’re down.” She described players being asked the same questions over and over, with reporters not respecting boundaries and actively trying to incite a breakdown.

That is what Osaka was rejecting. She still did post-game interviews on the court. She was just calling out the press conference environment, as well as the athletic organizations’ refusal to acknowledge the harm that environment causes a lot of players.

It’s very strange that Megyn Kelly would criticize Osaka for doing interviews so long before she took a stand at the French Open. But it also doesn’t matter when she did those interviews. What is the problem with choosing what kind of interactions you want to have with the media, with wanting to remove yourself from situations designed to damage you? And what kind of person gleefully takes to the internet to insist that if you won’t subject yourself to harmful situations with reporters who don’t respect you, then you don’t deserve to promote yourself and your sport or even speak publicly again ever?

(image: Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.