NeNe Leakes on Kim Zolciak's 'Dancing with the Stars' Elimination: 'Rules Are Rules'

NeNe Leakes said her former RHOA costar's DWTS elimination was part of the rules

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NeNe Leakes isn’t dancing around this subject: Rules are rules.

PEOPLE caught up with Leakes while she celebrated the Barefoot Wine Bear Garten Pride Celebration event in Atlanta on Thursday, and the reality star touched on her former Real Housewives of Atlanta costar Kim Zolciak-Biermann‘s recent Dancing with the Stars gig, which ended when she was eliminated after suffering from a mini stroke.

“I’m a big supporter of Tamar Braxton on the show, so I’ve been following the show,” Leakes, 47, told PEOPLE. “[Zolciak-Biermann] had Tony [Dovolani]. She was on Dancing with the Stars. Rules are rules. And rules are in place and they apply to everyone. So I believe it’s the rules.”

Zolciak-Biermann, 37, was hospitalized for a mini stroke Sept. 23. While she was cleared by her doctor to dance, she unable to fly to Los Angeles to perform on the Sept. 28 broadcast.

Subsequently, she was forced to withdraw. Though the reality star fiercely campaigned to be reinstated in the competition, she will not return until the finale.

On Thursday, Zolciak-Biermann announced that she is getting heart surgery for her condition, though she did not reveal when.

Zolciak-Biermann’s partner Tony Dovolani was also Leakes’ partner when she competed on season 18 of the popular show.

Zolciak-Biermann and Leakes costarred on RHOA for five seasons, though they had their fair share of ups and downs.

Zolciak-Biermann left the popular Bravo show in 2012, but the famous frenemies were set to team up again this year for a new Bravo road show titled The Road to Riches. However, a Bravo spokesperson told PEOPLE in July that the network would not be moving forward with the show, and a source said the show is “on hold indefinitely due to scheduling conflicts.”

In June, Leakes announced her own departure from RHOA exclusively to PEOPLE after nearly eight drama-filled years on the hit show.

“Leaving the show has been really, really good for me. I haven’t looked back at all,” Leakes told PEOPLE on Thursday. “I feel like it’s been a breath of fresh air for me. I feel like being on the show for so long I got into this negative space it was just very negative, being a part of a group where they tear you down every day.”

“I feel like I was a target being on the show,” Leakes continued. “I feel like the girls were there to tear me down, I felt like walking into scenes, I felt like I was attacked all the time and it had become too much. I needed a break and the break was well deserved and I’m enjoying my time off.”

And the former Bravo star has certainly kept busy since leaving: She just wrapped ABC’s To Tell the Truth with Anthony Anderson and Betty White, a reboot of the popular 1960s game show set to air in 2016.

That being said, don’t count this Housewife out forever: “I can’t say that I would ever be full time again on this show. I don’t want to say I will, and I don’t want to say I won’t,” Leakes said. “I may decide to come back as part-time or reoccurring or something, I may come back as full-time one day – I just don’t know when.”

Leakes added that if she were to come back, she would certainly make an appropriately “grand entrance – like, the queen is back!”

“None of those girls who are on the show are original girls,” Leakes added. “I’m an original Housewife. I started from day one. I actually brought the other girls onto the show. So there should be no interest other than, ‘The queen is here!’ ”

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