Naomi Osaka reduced tears was brought to tears by a spectator
During her straight-set defeat to Veronika Kudermetova at Indian Wells, addressing the heckler in a powerful post-match interview.
The Japanese star, playing just her third event since taking a break-in. September to concentrate on her mental health was taunted in the second game of the match after losing her opening service game.
During a lull in play before. Kudermetova was due to serve in the second game, a female spectator in the crowd was clearly heard yelling. ‘Naomi, you suck’.
The 24-year-old looked visibly distressed, not managing to win a single game in the first set as she slipped to a 6-0 6-4 loss, and could later be seen wiping away tears.
During a change of ends, a tearful. Naomi Osaka reduced tears even asked the umpire if she could use her microphone to speak to the heckler directly.
While that request was denied, the former world number one was allowed to give an on-court post-match interview – which is usually reserved for the winner.
As Osaka held back the tears
She told the crowd that the incident reminded her of when. Venus and Serena Williams were booed at the same tournament in 2001 – an incident that saw them boycott. Indian Wells for 14 years.
‘I feel like I’ve cried enough on camera but. I just wanted to say… to be honest. I’ve been heckled before and it didn’t really bother me,’ said an emotional Osaka.
‘But it’s like, being heckled here… I’ve watched a video of Venus and Serena getting heckled here and if you’ve never watched it you should watch it.
‘And I don’t know why, but it went into my head and it got replayed a lot. I’m trying not to cry. I just want to say thank you, and congratulations [to Kudermetova].’
As Osaka walked off the court, the interviewer said: ‘I just want to tell you, on behalf of everybody here, that out of about 10,000 people, one person’s voice can’t weigh out 9,999 others. And we love you here.’
The incident Osaka referenced involved the. Williams sisters occurred 21 years ago when. Venus pulled out of a semi-final match against her sister, with both her and her father, Richard, jeered when they took their seats to watch Serena in the final.
Serena was then subjected to boos throughout the match – and would still feel ‘traumatized’ when she returned to Indian Wells for the first time in 2015 – while Richard later said he had been the target of racial abuse that day.
Read: Mental Health