Naomi Osaka is receiving love and support from fans after being bullied recently during a tennis match for the Indian Wells Masters.
Osaka had an emotional breakdown and cried after a heckler yelled a nasty phrase during the game.
Naomi Osaka Reduced To Tears On Court By Heckler
On Saturday, Osaka went against Japan’s Veronika Kudermetova at the Indian Wells Tourney outside Palm Springs. Osaka, who joined the 2021 season of the tournament due to mental health issues, had a rough start after a fan began heckling her early in the game.
Per reports, the unidentified female fan shouted, “Naomi, you suck!” during the early stages of the first set against Kudermetova, putting Osaka off. The heckling continued as Osaka was losing 3-0 to her opponent when she paused the game to approach the umpire, saying she wanted to address the heckler.
“I just want to say something. I’m not going to curse. I don’t curse. It’s just weighing on my heart,” Osaka told the umpire, but she was denied. The official, however, promised to remove the heckler from the game if she persisted with the boos.
Unfortunately, it seemed the 24-year-old was already destabilized by the mockery and couldn’t concentrate. As a result, she lost the first set, 6-0.
She managed to put up quite a fight against Kudermetova in the second set, but Osaka lost 6-4.
Following her painful loss, Osaka remained on the court and agreed to an interview where she addressed the heckler. The four-time Grand Slam champion fought back the tears, and she said, “I just wanted to say thank you, I feel like I cry enough on camera. To be honest, I’ve been heckled before. It doesn’t really bother me, but being heckled here….”
Osaka then compared the incident to something similar that happened to tennis legends, Serena and Venus Williams.
Osaka Compared Being Heckled To The Williams Sisters’ 2001 Experience
The emotional Osaka said, “I watched a video of Venus and Serena getting heckled here. If you’ve never watched it you should watch it and I don’t know why, but it got into my head and it got replayed a lot.”
Naomi Osaka (-375) lost in straight sets last night at Indian Wells to World No. 24 Veronika Kudermetova and was emotional afterwards due to a heckler in the stands pic.twitter.com/egMCfhD0ob
— BetOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) March 13, 2022
In 2001, Serena and Venus played against each other in the semi-final round of the Indian Wells Masters. However, minutes before the game, Venus withdrew due to injury, leaving Serena to battle Kim Clijsters in the final the next day.
Unfortunately, Serena was booed by a large portion of the crowd during the finals while Venus and their father Richard watched from the courtside.
Unlike Osaka, Serena defeated Clijsters, but that didn’t shake the disappointment the tennis icon endured at the hands of fans who believed Richard faked Venus’ injury.
At the time, Serena addressed the controversy saying, “Nothing like this had ever happened to me. What was most surprising about this uproar was the fact that tennis fans are typically a well-mannered bunch. They’re respectful. They sit still. And in Palm Springs, especially, they tended to be pretty well-heeled, too. But I looked up and all I could see was a sea of rich people – mostly older, mostly white – standing and booing lustily, like some kind of genteel lynch mob.”
As a result, the Williams sisters boycotted the tournament for 15 years. Serena made her return in 2015, and Venus joined a year later.
Fans Show Love To The Four-Time Grand Slam Champion
Given that Osaka has been open about experiencing mental health struggles, her experience at the Indian Wells Masters caused fans to react.
Umpires call for silence when tennis players are playing – and anyone who fails to respect that call is ejected from the court. Same rule should apply throughout game. Why wasn’t that heckler immediately identified and ejected? Players shouldn’t have to toughen up. 👏
— Decay Management (@decaymanagement) March 13, 2022
As you might know, last year, the tennis player withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon and had to even take months-long hiatus from the game due to mental health issues.
Following the recent incident at Palm Springs, many fans came to her rescue. One netizen wrote, “I have thoughts on what happened to Naomi Osaka. The umpire should have booted the heckler(s) that shouted abuse at her straightaway. It shouldn’t take Naomi being reduced to tears and having to plead with the umpire to eject them. Worse? We knew this was coming. #IndianWells.”
Another added, “My heart breaks for Naomi Osaka. No one should be subjected to heckling and bullying. She shouldn’t have to be ‘strong’ and ‘deal with it’ cause some think it’s part of the sports culture.”
Naomi Osaka is pretty awesome. She keeps it real.
You can tell that she really cares about issues and about people.
Heckling tennis players is just plain wrong and the heckler should have been thrown out.
Do better please tennis authorities
— 💧 Michael Q Todd Founder of @GolfingCoin🌱 (@michaelqtodd) March 13, 2022
This comment read, “Man, I don’t really want to get into arguments on Twitter but seeing you tennis fans get on Naomi Osaka for how she reacted to a heckler makes my blood boil. Don’t let your sports fanaticism distract you from the fact that she’s a human being who deals with just as much.”