On Tuesday's episode of the PEOPLE Every Day podcast, Day defended the athlete amid criticism from Kelly, telling host Janine Rubenstein that Osaka “did nothing wrong,” and insisted that Kelly was “bullying” the 23-year-old.
After Osaka’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue cover was revealed on Monday, Kelly made a jab at the number of times the tennis player has appeared in magazines since skipping interviews at the French Open for mental health reasons.
“Well, first of all, we did that shoot back in December of 2020,” Day explained, noting that Osaka had shot the cover for SI Swim months before going public about her mental health struggles and social anxiety.
“It’s such bullying and it’s so unnecessary, and this woman did nothing wrong,” Day said in the episode. “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 explained why she called out Kelly on her Instagram story, telling her to “direct your vitriol somewhere else.”
The editor also noted that the comments from the Fox News host were “part of the problem,” in regard to mental health discussions. “How about we do our due diligence and make sure we know what the reality of a situation before we come for people,” Day said in defense of Osaka, who previously shared that she’s suffered from depression since 2018.
“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,” Day said of Osaka. “Let her live. Let her make decisions for herself that protect her own wellbeing. It’s at no cost to anyone.”
The controversy originally began on Twitter on Monday, when Kelly responded to a tweet from 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 is now on the cover of the SI swimsuit issue.”
Kelly responded by writing, “Let’s not forget the cover of (& interview in) Vogue Japan and Time Mag!”
Osaka came to her own defense and wrote back to Kelly, “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,” she said in a since-deleted tweet. “Instead your first reaction is to hop on here and spew negativity, do better Megan.”
Kelly bitterly responded, claiming that the athlete had blocked her. “Poor @naomiosaka blocked me while taking a shot at me (guess she’s only tough on the courts),” she wrote. “She is apparently arguing that she shot her many covers b/4 publically claiming she was too socially anxious to deal w/press. Truth is she just doesn’t like Qs she can’t control. Admit it.”
Osaka withdrew from the French Open in May after receiving a $15,000 fine for not meeting the tournament’s media requirements. She also opted not to compete in Wimbledon.