Conservative pundit Candace Owens told 'special snowflake' Naomi Osaka to quit tennis, only to perform an abrupt about-face and offer sympathy after the 23-year-old ace announced she was pulling out of the French Open.
On Monday afternoon, world number two Osaka shocked the sports world once more by withdrawing from the ongoing French Open.
Fined $15,000 by tournament organizers, the Japanese star who grew up in the US had refused to take part in obligatory press conferences at Roland Garros, citing mental health issues.
"I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris," Osaka wrote as part of a statement at the beginning of the week.
"I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.
"More importantly I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly."
Before this latest correspondence, though, Owens, joining other critics such as Piers Morgan, jumped on one of Osaka's tweets where the four-time Grand Slam winner had written "anger is a lack of understanding. Change makes people uncomfortable".
"She's starting to get soooooo annoying," Owens started, by retweeting the original post.
"Just quit tennis and become a full time activist. You make millions and are now complaining (again) because you think you're a special snowflake that shouldn't have to do press conferences because they are a form of 'mental abuse'."
"'Change'" doesn’t make people uncomfortable," Owens went on.
"Annoying, overprivileged, multi-millionaires who don’t even touch their own door handles, crying about how hard their lives are— that makes people uncomfortable. You have now become insufferable. Just quit the sport," she signed off.
Yet following Osaka's admissions of suffering from "bouts of depression" since 2018 and social anxiety, Owens quickly backtracked and offered her support to the struggling starlet.
"Naomi Osaka made the right decision," she conceded.
"Mental illness is serious and it is always an act of courage to step away to deal with personal issues. Emphasis on the word personal."
"It's becoming too fashionable for one person's experience to transform into a demand for everybody else...," she added.
"I genuinely wish Naomi well," Owens stressed, prior to emphasizing how "personal struggles are not universal, nor should they be".
"The concept here is simple. I have people in my family who struggle with alcoholism. They do not demand that every venue and person in the world therefore stop drinking and selling alcohol," she also explained.
Back in the tennis world, Osaka received praise from women's game legend Billie Jean King who wrote: "It's incredibly brave that Naomi Osaka has revealed her truth about her struggle with depression."
"Right now, the important thing is that we give her the space and time she needs. We wish her well."
But Morgan continues to stick to his guns, asking on Twitter this morning: "What journalist will dare criticize Naomi Osaka ever again?
"She’s got what she wanted - no more criticism, only praise. Meanwhile all her fellow tennis professionals will continue to fulfil their contractual obligations to the media and get criticism when deserved. [Does] this seem fair?"
Telling HuffPost to "grow up" for "pathetically disingenuous race-baiting", when accusing him of once more "going after a successful woman of color who has spoken up about her mental health struggles" - in a nod to his treatment of Meghan Markle - Morgan uploaded a photo of him and Venus Williams to prove a point.
"Yes trolls, I have a real problem with female black tennis stars....," it was captioned.