On July 22, tennis superstar Naomi Osaka will make history as the first woman of Haitian and Japanese descent to appear on the annual cover of Sports Illustrated‘s Swimsuit edition, along with Megan Thee Stallion and transgender model Leyna Bloom. Yesterday, the haters came out ready for war and wasted little time going after Osaka.
Right-wing commentator Clay Travis fired up Twitter with his morning attacks. “Since saying she’s too introverted to talk to the media after tennis matches,” he remarked, “Naomi Osaka has launched a reality show, a Barbie, and now is on the cover of the SI swimsuit issue.”
Fellow conservative pundit and commentator Megyn Kelly then piggybacked on Travis’ comments and replied, “Let’s not forget the cover of (& interview in) Vogue Japan and Time Mag!” In fact, Osaka’s op-ed titled “It’s O.K. Not to Be O.K.” is the main feature in this week’s issue of Time.
Osaka is headed to Tokyo to represent Japan in the upcoming Olympic Games. However, she voluntarily exited this year’s French Open to protect her mental health and later skipped Wimbledon, citing some of the pressures she experiences as an introvert who has struggled with depression since 2018. When it came to Kelly, though, the four-time Grand Slam singles champion was not playing around and returned serve.
“Seeing as you’re a journalist I would’ve assumed you would take the time to research what the lead times are for magazines, if you did that you would’ve found out I shot all of my covers last year,” Osaka fired back in a since-deleted Tweet. Kelly has built a large part of her following on feminist ideology and noted the struggles she encountered in her own professional life for being a woman, so her aggressive targeting of Osaka is curious.
“Instead your first reaction is to hop on here and spew negativity, do better Megan,” Osaka continued in her reply. And then she denied Kelly any access to her Twitter for good measure.
But Kelly was not done trolling Osaka and pressed on with the bullying. “Poor @naomiosaka blocked me while taking a shot at me (guess she’s only tough on the courts),” Kelly continued, sharing a screenshot of her blocked page. “She is apparently arguing that she shot her many covers b/4 publicly claiming she was too socially anxious to deal w/press. Truth is she just doesn’t like Qs she can’t control. Admit it.”
From the looks of things, Osaka is over Kelly for now. But plenty of people defended Osaka and called out Kelly for her blatant harassment, including Roxanne Gay and Martina Navratilova. Check out some of the responses below: