Serena Williams began her 2021 Roland Garros campaign with a 7-6(6), 6-2 win over Irina-Camelia Begu on Monday. After her match, Williams offered her support to Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from Roland Garros in the wake of the backlash that followed her decision to boycott press conferences at the event.
Naomi Osaka announced her withdrawal on Monday. She revealed she has been suffering from depression since the 2018 US Open, which was one of the major reasons behind her decision to skip press conferences in Paris.
Osaka issued a statement on Monday where she shed some light on her mental health issues and said she did not want to be a "distraction" at the event.
When asked about the matter during her post-match press conference, Serena Williams sympathized with the Japanese and revealed how she herself had been in a similar position before.
The American insisted that Naomi Osaka should be allowed to deal with her problems in any way she deemed fit.
“The only thing I think is that I feel very sorry for Naomi, I would love to give her a hug because I know what it feels like," Serena Williams said. "As I have said before, I was also in that position. We have different personalities, each person is different, there is no one the same as another.
"For example, I am thick and other people are thinner. We are all different and we each handle situations in a way. Let her handle this however she wants, in the way she thinks is best, is all I can say. Right now I think she's doing the best she can."
Serena Williams said she had not heard of Naomi Osaka's withdrawal until after her win over Irina-Camelia Begu.
“Honestly, I just heard the news just before going into the press conference, so the topic is new to me," the American said. "I think a lot has been published on this topic, although I think that a step forward should still be taken on this topic, we must make an effort."
The 23-time Grand Slam champion advised Naomi Osaka to speak out about her issues instead of letting emotions fester within her.
"She will need to talk to people," Williams explained. "It is imperative to have your head in order, whether you are a WTA player or anyone else you deal with on a weekly basis. I was also in that position, but I spoke to people to vent. It is important to be aware and take that step."
I enjoyed inaugurating the night session at Roland Garros: Serena Williams
Serena Williams became the first player to play a night session at the 2021 Roland Garros. Williams took the court around 8 pm local time and wrapped up the victory by 10 pm, although a 9 pm curfew in Paris meant the match was played in an empty stadium.
Williams revealed she did not enjoy playing in the evening, but admitted she felt privileged to inaugurate the night session at Roland Garros.
"Definitely, playing at this time makes everything a little different," Serena Williams said. "In general, the evening sessions are not usually my favorites, but I know that I have a good record when I play at this time, although I am motivated to play under all circumstances. It was great to be the first to open this night session here at Roland Garros, it is something I really enjoyed."
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