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A’ja Wilson: ‘They just see us as entertainment, they don’t see us as human’

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A’ja Wilson and Napheesa Collier are throwing their support behind Simone Biles.

“When I found out about when Simone pulled out of events, I was for it,” Wilson says on the latest episode of Tea with A & Phee. “I’m one hundred percent backing her up because it’s hard, it’s tough.”

On the episode released Thursday, Wilson and Collier reveal what it’s like to play under the Olympic spotlight, highlighting Biles’ decision to pull out of several gymnastics events in Tokyo.

While the USA Basketball stars can relate to Biles’ experience, Wilson and Collier admit there’s an amplified pressure to perform in elite gymnastics.

“We don’t even have an opportunity to train the way that they train for this moment. We have a season to play, where our minds are elsewhere,” Wilson says. “For them, they do so much to get to this moment that it weighs on them.”

The individual element to Biles’ sport is something Wilson and Collier say they can’t fathom.

“Especially someone who is of Simone’s caliber, you’re open to the world, you’re open to all the criticisms and the accolades,” Collier says. “It’s not even a team sport — she has to take that on by herself.”

When asked why fans have a hard time understanding athletes’ decisions to step back, Wilson says it has to do with people not always seeing athletes as human beings beyond what they do in their sport.

“They just see us as entertainment. They don’t see us as human,” she says.

While Wilson clarifies that not all fans view sports this way, she says, “You’ve got to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.”

“You’re talking to someone that is a sister, a daughter, a mother,” she adds. “They go through the same thing.”

Listen to the the full conversation on Biles, athlete expectations and the Olympic experience here.