When Naomi Osaka’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue cover was revealed on Monday, Megyn Kelly poked fun at the athlete’s frequency of magazine appearances since citing efforts to preserve her mental health as the reason for her choice to forego interviews at the French Open.
M.J. Day, the editor of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue, is stepping out in support of Osaka following Kelly’s criticism of her magazine cover.
Day defended Osaka, 23, on Tuesday’s episode of the PEOPLE Every Day podcast, saying to presenter Janine Rubenstein that what Kelly, 50, did was “bullying” because Osaka “did nothing wrong.”
“Well, first of all, we did that shoot back in December of 2020,” Day explained, noting that Osaka shot her SI Swim cover months before disclosing her social anxiety.
The editor continued by explaining why she addressed Kelly on her own Instagram Story, telling Kelly to “direct your vitriol somewhere else.”
Kelly initially responded to a tweet from conservative sports pundit 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.
In a since-deleted tweet to Kelly, Osaka stated that her covers were shot before she revealed her mental health difficulties publicly.
“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 tweeted back, per a screenshot captured by Sporting News. “Instead, your first reaction is to hop on here and spew negativity, do better, Megan.”
Kelly responded with a further tweet in which she claimed Osaka had blocked her.
“Poor @naomiosaka blocked me while taking a shot at me (guess she’s only tough on the courts),” Kelly wrote. “She is apparently arguing that she shot her many covers b/4 publicly claiming she was too socially anxious to deal w/press. The truth is, she just doesn’t like Qs she can’t control. Admit it.”