Serena Williams talks media scrutiny amid Naomi Osaka's withdrawal from French Open: 'It made me stronger'

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After her first-round victory on Monday at the French Open, Serena Williams discussed anxiety when dealing with the media and said that she experienced it often after matches.

Williams made her comments during the post-match news conference hours after four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka withdrew from the tournament amid scrutiny over her decision to boycott talking to the media.

“Many of them I’ve been into where I’ve been — very difficult to walk in those moments,” Williams said. “But you know, it made me stronger.”

Osaka made the announcement to withdraw on Twitter – one day after she was fined $15,000 for skipping her post-match press conference. She explained her decision in a lengthy statement.

Following the announcement, French Open organizers released a statement saying that it’s “unfortunate” that she withdrew from Roland-Garros, but they “wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery.”

“I feel for Naomi,” Williams added. “Not everyone is the same. I’m thick. Other people are thin. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently.”

Williams continued: “You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to and the best way she thinks she can. That’s the only thing I can say: I think she is doing the best she can.”

Williams, who is eyeing a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, believes it’s important to reach out for support when you’re in need of help.

“You really have to step forward and make an effort, just as in anything, and say, ‘I need help with A, B, C and D,’ and talk to someone,” Williams said. “I think that’s so important to have a sounding board, whether it’s someone at the WTA, or someone in your life, or maybe it’s someone you talk to on a weekly basis.

“I’ve been in that position too, and I’ve definitely had opportunities to talk to people and just get things off my chest that I can’t necessarily talk about to anyone in my family or anyone I know.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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