Naomi Osaka, Japan’s tennis star, broke down mid-game on Saturday after she was heckled by a spectator at Indian Wells. The 24-year-old asked match officials for a microphone to respond to the heckler.
The heckler seemed to shout “Naomi, you s**k”, according to the snippets of the game posted on social media platforms.A
Osaka trailed 3-0 in the first set when a woman in the stands cursed the Japanese player. Osaka approached the chair umpire with the unusual request to use the microphone to address the crowd.
A supervisor came on court for a prolonged discussion with Osaka while Kudermetova waited behind the baseline for the match to resume.
After the match, Osaka spoke to the crowd with tears streaming down her face. She said the reason the fan upset her was that she had recently seen a video of Serena and Venus Williams being heckled by fans at Indian Wells in 2001. The sisters boycotted the tournament for years until eventually returning.
When given the microphone, Osaka addressed the crowd with tears in her eyes and said, “I just wanted to say thank you. I feel like I have cried enough on camera.”
Osaka’s opponent Veronika Kudermetova was seen clapping as the heckler was being called out. The crowd was on its feet, applauding Osaka as she spoke.
Former world number 1 Naomi Osaka seemed to be out of her form as Russian player Veronika Kudermetova managed to beat her 6-0, 6-4 in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday night.