This week, Naomi Osaka was one of many famous women to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, but her inclusion came at a price.
The sports star is one of the best tennis players in the world, but the champion has opted to sit out both the French Open and Wimbledon after revealing that her mental health struggles, especially as they are tied to answering questions from the press in post-game interviews, are difficult for her to manage in those environments.
Osaka widely received support from the public but there have been certain people, like Piers Morgan and former Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who have chided her vocalizing her personal struggles. Kelly was particularly callous after Osaka’s SI cover was revealed, taking to Twitter to poke fun at Osaka while suggesting that the tennis star can’t be struggling too much if she continues to pose for magazine features.
Osaka issued a clap back, stating that her photoshoot for SI was months before she came forward to talk about her mental health, and after blocking Kelly on Twitter, the reporter continued to harass Osaka. Kelly quickly caught backlash from a global audience on social media but she returned to defend her comments.
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor MJ Day has come forward to condemn Kelly’s remarks. “It broke my heart… It’s such bullying and it’s so unnecessary, and this woman did nothing wrong,” Day said while visiting the People Every Day podcast. “First of all, we did that shoot back in December of 2020.”
Day added that Osaka is “living her life for the betterment of others, while also trying to pursue her own passion, which is tennis and fashion,” adding, “Let her live, let her make decisions for herself that protect her own well-being … it’s at no cost to anyone. And also it’s just facts, we did this shoot back in December.”