Naomi Osaka defended after Piers Morgan and Megyn Kelly take shots at her for appearing in Sports Illustrated
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for BAFTA LA/Sports Illustrated

Piers Morgan and former Fox News host Megyn Kelly have taken fresh shots at tennis star Naomi Osaka after the 23-year-old appeared on the front cover of Sports Illustrated.

Osaka made history by becoming the first Haitian and Japanese woman to ever appear on the cover of the long-running magazine, known for its swimsuit photoshoots.

However, Osaka has received backlash from numerous individuals for the photoshoot, including the aforementioned Kelly and Morgan.

This is related to the fact that Osaka opted to drop out of both the French Open and Wimbledon tournaments earlier this year on mental health grounds and said she did not want to take part in press conferences. At the time she said: “Though the tennis press has always been kind to me… I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media.”

Osaka was criticised by certain sectors of the media for dropping out of the competitions but many have since cited her continued media presence. The star has already appeared in Vogue and Time Magazine, released her own Barbie doll and launched her own self-titled Netflix documentary series.

In response, Morgan mockingly wrote on Twitter: “ANOTHER magazine cover for brave inspiring Naomi! No wonder she had no time for beastly media press conferences.”

Meanwhile, Kelly also took a shot at the young tennis pro which resulted in Osaka blocking her on Twitter.

Morgan chimed in to tell Kelly that Osaka had also blocked him on Twitter, sarcastically adding: “The only media Ms Osaka wants to tolerate are sycophantic magazine editors telling her how perfect she is.”

However, many have since come to the defence of Osaka, mostly notably tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who called Kelly an “a**hole” and added: “You have no idea what you are talking about.”

In what appears to be a now-deleted tweet, Osaka fired back at Kelly to inform the reporter that these photoshoots were shot last year before she started to speak out about her mental health.

A few weeks ago, Morgan was criticised for saying 18-year-old Emma Raducanu dropped out of Wimbledon because she “couldn’t handle the pressure”. The youngster withdrew because of breathing problems, and later said: “I found it very difficult to regulate my breathing. It was emphasised my some long rallies we had towards the end of the first set which made it tough for me to keep my composure and breathing in check.

“I don’t know what caused it, I think it was a combination of everything that has gone on behind the scenes and the accumulation of the excitement and the buzz.”

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