The former Fox News host unsuccessfully attempted to draw a connection between the tennis superstar’s recent magazine appearances and her decision to withdraw from the French Open and Wimbledon tournaments in the spring, citing the need to protect her mental health.
Kelly started off by responding to a tweet from right-wing sports commentator Clay Travis that read: “Since saying she’s too introverted to talk to the media after tennis matches, Naomi Osaka has launched a reality show, a Barbie, and now is on the cover of the SI swimsuit issue.”
“Let’s not forget the cover of (& interview in) Vogue Japan and Time Mag!” Kelly replied, referencing Osaka’s appearances on the covers of Vogue Japan’s August issue and Time earlier this month. (Kelly left out that Osaka also graced the cover of Vogue Hong Kong this month.)
Kelly’s attack received swift condemnation on Twitter, including a rebuke from the four-time Grand Slam champion herself.
Osaka reminded the former cable news host to “do better,” according to screenshots of a since-deleted tweet. She also pointed out that she shot all of her covers last year ― months before she announced in May that she would not do any press appearances at this year’s French Open.
“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,” the tennis star reportedly tweeted. “Instead your first reaction is to hop on here and spew negativity, do better Megan.”
Kelly seemed bothered by the reactions to her comments and later sounded off that Osaka had blocked her on Twitter. “Poor [Naomi Osaka] blocked me while taking a shot at me (guess she’s only tough on the courts),” she tweeted.
Many people came to Osaka’s defense, accusing the 50-year-old of bullying the 23-year-old athlete.
Osaka has openly discussed her struggles with mental health. She released a statement on Instagram in May saying that she had “suffered long bouts of depression” since the U.S. Open in 2018.
“Megyn, mocking someone who has dared to admit publicly that she struggles with mental illness is a dangerous game, and can harm countless others you will never know. Please stop this,” USA Today columnist Connie Schultz wrote.
Others chimed in to slam Kelly for her relentless attacks:
People on Twitter also called out Kelly for fixating on Osaka, who is Haitian and Japanese, and chided the former Fox News host for her history of making racist comments.
Kelly, who moved to NBC News after leaving Fox News in 2017, was fired from NBC in 2018 after she defended the use of blackface in Halloween costumes during a segment of her show “Megyn Kelly Today.”
Kelly also instigated a Twitter argument with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and “1619 Project” creator Nikole Hannah-Jones over the weekend, prompting Twitter users to call out Kelly’s attacks on high-profile Black women.
“Your obsession with successful Black women is weird but unsurprising. I hope you find a job soon,” author Roxane Gay tweeted.
Others joined in:
Osaka, meanwhile, celebrated her Sports Illustrated cover on Instagram on Monday, writing that she is the first Haitian and Japanese woman to cover the magazine’s Swimsuit Issue, which is due out in August.
See some of her shots for the issue below: