Piers Morgan criticized the unveiling of Naomi Osaka as the cover star for Sports Illustratedof the new 2021 swimsuit number, after withdrawing from the Wimbledon and Roland-Garros tennis tournaments.
Grand Slam champion Osaka, 23, made headlines in late May when it was announced she was retiring from Roland Garros, saying her mental health issues were making press conferences after -difficult matches.
But after the new Sports Illustrated The covers were unveiled publicly on Monday – also featuring Megan Thee Stallion as the publication’s first rapper cover star and Leyna Bloom, the first transgender model to headline – criticism quickly arose.
In response to a report announcing Osaka’s new cover, Morgan, 56, wrote on Twitter, “ANOTHER magazine cover for brave and inspiring Naomi! No wonder she didn’t have time for lectures beastly press!”
The British TV personality’s comments saw him join a chorus of critics who also spoke out about Osaka’s coverage on the microblogging platform.
“Since saying she was too introverted to talk to the media after tennis matches, Naomi Osaka has started a reality show, a Barbie, and is now on the cover of SI’s swimsuit issue,” kick founder Clay Travis wrote on Twitter.
In response to her tweet, presenter Megyn Kelly wrote, “Let’s not forget the cover of (and the interview in) Vogue Japan and Time Mag!”
Osaka fired back at Kelly, writing in a since-deleted tweet: “Since you’re a journalist, I would have assumed you’d take the time to research magazine turnaround times, if you had you would have J’ found out I shot all my covers last year, instead your first reaction is to jump in here and spit negativity, better do Megyn.
However, Kelly backed up her criticism by sharing a screenshot of a notification that Osaka blocked her.
“Poor @naomiosaka blocked me shooting me (I guess she’s only tough on the courts),” Kelly tweeted. “She apparently maintains that she turned her many b/4 covers by publicly claiming that she was too socially anxious to deal with the press. The truth is that she just doesn’t like the Qs she can’t not control. Admit it.”
Intervening, Morgan told Kelly, “Yeah, and she just blocked me too. The only media Ms. Osaka wants to tolerate are sycophantic magazine editors telling her how perfect she is.”
When a Twitter user accused Morgan of targeting black women, he said: “Hillary Clinton, Madonna, Meryl Streep, Victoria Beckham, Emma Watson, Theresa May, Kate Winslet, JK Rowling and Jennifer Aniston might be surprised at hear that.”
This isn’t the first time Morgan has publicly criticized Osaka. In June, he poked fun at the sportswoman after she shared it vogue japan cover on Twitter.
In response, Morgan wrote, “Great to see Naomi bravely using beastly media to promote herself again. Inspiring!”
Earlier in June, he responded to a vanity lounge headline, which read, “Naomi Osaka has received an outpouring of support from celebrities and professional athletes after deciding not to compete at Roland Garros.”
“Very good too,” Morgan wrote on Twitter. “Nothing is more courageous, admirable or inspiring than an athlete who earns $55 million a year, in large part due to positive media attention, who refuses to compete because he does not want to answer questions. possibly negative questions at a press conference.”
In his column for the Daily MailMorgan called Osaka “an arrogant spoiled brat whose fame and fortune seem to have inflated his ego to gigantic proportions”, shortly after it was revealed that she was withdrawing from press conferences at Roland Garros.
Morgan went on to accuse Osaka of “weaponizing mental health” in an effort to “justify her boycott”, writing, “What Osaka really means is that she doesn’t want to face the media if she didn’t perform well, because the beastly reporters might actually dare to criticize her performance, and she’s not going to ‘submit’ to ‘people who doubt me’.”
In an editorial published in Weather magazine earlier in July, Osaka insisted his decision to pull out of tournaments was “never a matter of the press”.
“I repeat for those in the back: I love the press; I don’t like all the press conferences,” wrote Osaka, who also argued that athletes should be allowed to take breaks in their press obligations without fear of being penalized or fined.
“We often sit there and ask questions that we’ve been asked many times before or questions that raise doubts in our minds and I’m just not going to submit to people who doubt me,” Osaka said in a statement. may. statement announcing his decision not to participate in the press conferences at Roland-Garros.
She continued: “I’ve watched many clips of athletes collapsing after a loss in the press room and I know you will too. I believe this whole situation is about kicking a person so that she’s down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind that.”
Osaka was threatened with expulsion and fined $15,000 by the French Open for refusing to do press interviews, then withdrew from the tournament, before announcing that she would not participate not at Wimbledon either.
The tennis ace, who has also received an outpouring of support since stepping back to protect her mental health, is set to represent her home country of Japan at the Tokyo Olympics, which are due to start later this week.
Newsweek has reached out to a representative for Naomi Osaka for comment.