Naomi Osaka felt compelled to ask the chair umpire to do something about someone yelling at her. Photo/Getty
Naomi Osaka has sent a poignant message after breaking down in tears in Indian Wells over a rude ruckus from a spectator. However, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray claim the incident is nothing out of the ordinary.
Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka lost in the second round to Veronika Kudermetova and stopped play in the second game of the first set to approach the chair umpire, asking her to do something about a no one yelling at him.
The onlooker allegedly shouted “Naomi, you suck”, after which the tennis star became emotional and cried.
Taking to Twitter on Friday morning, Osaka wrote, “Very proud of me for reaching a point in my life where despite the lows, I would still rather be myself than anyone else.”
After her match against Kudermetova ended, Osaka addressed the crowd on the court and said the heckling brought back memories of an infamous incident in Indian Wells in 2001 when Serena Williams was booed during a match.
The nasty episode involved accusations of racism and allegations Williams’ father Richard had fixed the results of matches between Serena and her sister Venus.
The two sisters then boycotted Indian Wells for 14 years until Serena returned to the event in 2015.
“To be honest, I’ve been heckled before, I didn’t really mind. But (being) heckled here, I watched a video of Venus and Serena (Williams) getting heckled here, and if you don’t ever watched it, you should watch it,” Osaka told the crowd.
“I don’t know why, but it popped into my head and it got replayed a lot. I’m trying not to cry. But I just wanted to say thank you and congratulations.”
Fellow stars Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal have both sympathized with Osaka, but acknowledged that getting heckled can be part of top sport.
“The easy answer for me is I feel bad about what happened, it should never happen,” Nadal said earlier this week. “Even if it’s terrible to hear that, we have to be prepared for it, right?
“At the same time, as we really like when people support, when something like this happens, you have to accept and move on, right?
“We have to resist these kinds of problems that can arise when you are exposed to people, right?
“I understand that Naomi has probably suffered a lot from these issues, probably the kind of issues she has, mental (health) issues. The only thing I wish for her is to recover well from this and I wish him all the best.
“But life, nothing is perfect in this life, right? We have to be ready for adversities.”
Murray echoed a similar sentiment.
“I’ve also played in some atmospheres myself in tennis, like Davis Cup atmospheres, away from home, especially where the atmosphere is intense, and sometimes things are said and it’s not so comfortable,” Murray said.
“People who come to watch, obviously you want them to be there and support the players and not make it harder for them. I don’t know, but that’s also something that’s always been part of the sport too. .
“If you go watch a basketball game, for example, and a player makes free throws, I’d say almost every basketball game I’ve been to, one of the players has also been heckled by the And while it’s wrong for those individuals to do that, athletes somehow have to be used to that too or be able to handle that too, even if it’s not pleasant.
“So I think for Naomi it obviously upset her a lot, but it’s always been part of the sport too. So you have to be prepared for that in a certain way and be able to tolerate it because it happens. regularly in all sports.”