At Indian Wells, a heckler pushed Naomi Osaka to tears.

On Saturday, Naomi Osaka’s match at Indian Wells took an unpleasant turn when a heckler showed up.

During Osaka’s first-set match against Veronika Kudermetova, a woman in the audience yelled, “Naomi, you suck!”

The comment was met with jeers from onlookers, and it seemed to shock the four-time Grand Slam winner. When Osaka was down 3-0 in the first set, she begged the chair umpire to address the crowd.

“Do you mind if I use your microphone?” Osaka was the one who inquired. “All I want to do is say something.” I’m not going to say anything bad. I’m not a curser. It’s just weighing heavily on my mind.”

However, Osaka was not allowed to use the microphone. If the match was interrupted a second time, tournament authorities decided they’d discover and eject the heckler. The heckler was detained.

The 24-year-old dropped the first set 6-0 to Kudermetova. She’d lose the next set 6-4, ending her run in the Round of 64 at the California-based tournament.

With access to a microphone after the match, Osaka addressed the comment.

“I feel like I’ve cried enough on camera,” Osaka said to the crowd. “I’ve gotten heckled before. It really didn’t bother me. But heckled here, I watched a video of Venus and Serena getting heckled here, and if you’ve never watched it, you should watch it. I don’t know why, but it went to my head.”

Osaka referenced Serena and Venus Williams’ experience where the sisters faced fierce crowd backlash at Indian Wells in 2001.

Serena Williams said she felt “unwelcome, alone and afraid” as she experienced criticism and boos from the crowd. The tennis legend, who was 19 years old at the time, mounted a comeback to claim the Indian Wells title. She would not participate at Indian Wells for the next 14 years. She eventually returned in 2015, ending her boycott of the event.

Categorized as Sport

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