Tennis star Naomi Osaka has not competed in a WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) event since May, withdrawing from the French Open and later Wimbledon after going public with her mental health struggles. While most have been supportive of Osaka, the 23-year-old’s recent appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue (three-time Grammy winner Megan Thee Stallion and Leyna Bloom, SI’s first transgender cover model, appeared on alternate covers) was met by criticism from some including media personalities Clay Travis and Megyn Kelly, who found her steamy swimwear photos hypocritical after citing anxiety and depression as reason for ducking her required media obligations at Roland Garros.
Osaka took to Twitter to defend herself Monday, claiming her cover shoots for Sports Illustrated, Time and Vogue Japan occurred long before bowing out of the French Open and Wimbledon to address her mental health. In response to Kelly, Osaka questioned her credibility as a journalist, ripping the former Fox News and NBC host for not bothering to research magazine lead times before attacking the reigning Australian and US Open champ on social media.
Currently the world’s second-ranked player behind Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, Osaka was recently awarded Best Female Athlete at the ESPY Awards and is also the subject of a new, three-part Netflix documentary. Despite being eligible for US citizenship, the 5’11” Osaka has decided to represent her native Japan at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, which will mark her return to competitive tennis after a nearly two-month hiatus.