Naomi Osaka Taunted By Spectator At BNP Paribas Open And Brought to Tears
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Naomi Osaka Taunted By Spectator At BNP Paribas Open And Brought to Tears

Naomi Osaka, LeBron James
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Naomi Osaka of Japan addresses the crowd after being heckled by a fan in her second-round match against Veronika Kudermetova of Russia at the 2022 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 12, 2022 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

After losing the first game of her second-round match against Veronika Kudermetova at the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday night, Naomi Osaka was taunted by a spectator in the crowd who reportedly yelled out “Naomi, you suck.”

The four-time grand-slam champion, who withdrew from the French Open and then missed Wimbledon last year after revealing her mental health issues, was heckled early in the match. She lost 6-0, 6-4 to the world No 24, according to CNN.

The news outlet reported that after hearing a shout from a suite in Stadium 1 on Saturday, a distraught Osaka was shaken by the comment and asked the umpire for the microphone to address the crowd, during a break in play.

But that request was denied. There has been no comments on whether the spectator was identified or removed from the venue. After speaking to a tournament supervisor, she was allowed to speak after the match.

Addressing the crowd after the match, a choked-up Osaka referenced the 2001 incident when Serena and Venus Williams were targeted with racially charged insults at the same tournament.

“To be honest, I’ve been heckled before,” Osaka said. “It didn’t really bother me.
“But heckled here, like, I’ve watched a video of Venus and Serena (Williams) get heckled here and if you’ve never watched it, you should watch it. I don’t know why, but it went into my head and got replayed a lot.”
Before leaving the court, Osaka thanked the crowd and offered her congratulations to Kudermetova.

The tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams and their father, Richard, were booed by the Indian Wells crowd in 2001 after Venus pulled out of the sisters’ scheduled semifinal matchup at the last minute due to a knee injury, as per The Los Angeles Times. The sisters boycotted the tournament for years. Serena went on to win the final but didn’t return to the Indian Wells until 2015. Venus returned in 2016.

On November 17, 2021, Serena Williams went on the Red Table Talk Show with Will Smith and explained how she experienced anxiety when she returned to compete in Indian Wells in 2015.

“I mean, it was hard. Talk about post-traumatic stress and mental anxiety.”


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