Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor M.J. Day has come out in support of Naomi Osaka in the wake of the Japanese's online spat with American journalist and TV anchor Megyn Kelly.
Earlier this week, Fox News host Megyn Kelly took to Twitter to take a shot at Osaka, accusing the Japanese of seeking the limelight by participating in photoshoots despite her mental health concerns.
Osaka immediately responded to Kelly, slamming the American for unnecessarily spreading negativity. Osaka then went on to block Kelly on social media, earning another rebuke from the American.
Now, M.J. Day, whose magazine cover on Monday featured Osaka, has lashed out at Kelly, accusing the journalist of "bullying" the Japanese. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor even went as far as to suggest that Kelly was simply seeking attention by attacking Osaka.
"It's such bullying and it's so unnecessary, and this woman did nothing wrong," Day said on the PEOPLE Every Day podcast. "I'm like, 'You know what, you're journalists. How about you do your job and you fact check instead of jumping all over this woman for attention?'"
Osaka sparked a conversation on mental health of athletes after she announced she would skip all her press conferences in Paris to protect her wellbeing. She was handed a fine by the organizers, who warned the Japanese that she could be defaulted from the tournament if she continued to forego her media responsibilities.
Osaka subsequently pulled out of Roland Garros, and later revealed that media interactions had taken a toll on her mental health in the past few years.
She then penned an essay in Time magazine, explaining the rationale behind her decision to pull out of the claycourt Slam. By her own admission, the Japanese felt immense pressure to disclose her mental health issues since the media and tournament organizers didn't want to give her the benefit of doubt.
But during her time away from the court, Osaka remained in the news for a number of other reasons. She was the subject of a Netflix docuseries based on her life, and also appeared on the magazine covers of Sports Illustrated and Vogue Japan. This led to a rebuke from Megyn Kelly, who slammed the Japanese for her off-court activities.
Here is a look at the brief exchange between Naomi Osaka and Megyn Kelly:
"Let her live, let her make decisions for herself that protect her wellbeing" - M.J. Day on Naomi Osaka
M.J. Day also called out Megyn Kelly on Instagram. Day provided a screenshot of her phone's camera roll that contained Naomi Osaka's pictures for the SI Swimsuit magazine cover along with a time stamp.
The screenshot shows Osaka participated in the photoshoot back in December 2020, before her mental health struggles had come to light.
Day doubled down on her comments during her appearance on the PEOPLE Every Day podcast.
"We did that shoot back in December of 2020," Day said.
The magazine editor then urged the media to leave Osaka alone and let the Japanese take decisions that protect her wellbeing.
"It broke my heart to see someone who is really living her life for the betterment of others while also trying to pursue her own passion, which is tennis and fashion," Day said. "Let her live. Let her make decisions for herself that protect her own wellbeing. It's at no cost to anyone."