13th March, 2022
Former World Number one Naomi Osaka burst out in tears at Indian Wells on Saturday after being heckled by a person at the stands.
Some douchebag screamed out “Naomi, you suck” during Osaka’s match with Veronika Kudermetova.
The heckling came in the first game, in which Kudermetova broke Osaka.
The comment destabilised the Japanese star, as she went on to lose the first set 6-0 to someone she should have beaten.
She also lost the second set 4-6.
After the match, Osaka, who was the 2018 champion, asked for the umpire’s mic to address the crowd on centre court.
She said the incident reminded her of when Venus and Serena Williams were booed at the tournament in 2001.
“I’ve been heckled before and it didn’t really bother me,” Osaka said while holding back tears.
“But being heckled here. I’ve watched video of Venus and Serena get 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 got replayed a lot.”
“I just want to say thank you and congratulations,” she concluded.
Osaka has been open about her struggles with mental wellness in the past and took a break from the sport following her upset loss at last year’s U.S. Open.
She said she was in a great place emotionally coming into the tournament.
Kudermetova stayed locked in despite the drama and continued her hot start to the year, outplaying the four-time Grand Slam champion even when she regrouped in the second set.
“It was a really tough match for me against Naomi,” she said.
“She is a great player, she’s a good fighter, and I’m really happy about my performance today. I was so focused and I’m so happy to be here and play in front of you guys.”
Naomi Osaka asked for the microphone after her loss against Veronika Kudermetova. Here's what she said. pic.twitter.com/0Pj9WnNe4t
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) March 13, 2022