The Naomi Osaka–Megyn Kelly Drama, Explained


Naomi Osaka is one of three cover stars for this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She looks gorgeous in the pics, natch, but Megyn Kelly, for some reason, has decided to take issue with the entire spread. Here’s what’s going on. 

Let’s start from the beginning: On July 19, Osaka unveiled her Sports Illustrated cover. 

Osaka noted she’s the first Haitian and Japanese woman on the cover of the Swimsuit Issue, which is a huge deal. 

In late May, Osaka announced she wouldn’t be doing any press during the French Open for mental health reasons; this ultimately led to her withdrawing from the tournament. Kelly and conservative sports analyst Clay Travis used this as ammunition to say Osaka’s Sports Illustrated spread was hypocritical. 

“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,” Travis tweeted, to which Kelly quote-tweeted, “Let’s not forget the cover of (& interview in) Vogue Japan and Time Mag!”

Osaka responds to Kelly in a since-deleted tweet.

“Seeing as you’re a journalist I would’ve assumed you would take the time to research what the lead times are for magazines,” she tweeted, per BuzzFeed. “If you did that you would’ve found out I shot all of my covers last year. Instead your first reaction is to hop on here and spew negativity, do better Megan.” (Was the intentional misspelling of “Megyn” shade or an accident? We’ll never know!)

Kelly doubles down. 

After Osaka blocked her on Twitter, Kelly tweeted, “Poor @naomiosaka blocked me while taking a shot at me (guess she’s only tough on the courts). 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.” 

Sports Illustrated is now weighing in. 

The Swimsuit Issue editor M.J. Day told Janine Rubenstein on People’s Every Day podcast she thinks Kelly is “bullying” Osaka and that the tennis pro “did nothing wrong.”

“Well, first of all, we did that shoot back in December of 2020,” Day said, according to People. “It’s such bullying and it’s so unnecessary, and this woman did nothing wrong. I’m like, ‘You know what, you’re journalists. How about you do your job and you fact-check instead of jumping all over this woman for attention?’” 

Day added that Kelly’s treatment of Osaka is “part of the problem” with our culture’s discourse on mental health. “How about we do our due diligence and make sure we know what the reality of a situation before we come for people?” she said. “It broke my heart to see someone who is really living her life for the betterment of others while also trying to pursue her own passion, which is tennis and fashion. Let her live. Let her make decisions for herself that protect her own well-being. It’s at no cost to anyone.”

On her Instagram, Day told Kelly to “direct her vitriol” somewhere else. 

We’ll update this post with more details as they come in.


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