Tennis star Naomi Osaka was moved to tears after a snide comment was made by a spectator during her second-round loss at Indian Wells – BNP Paribas Open 2022 in California on Sunday. Osaka was shaken by the heckling of the crowd and lost her match against Veronika Kudermetova 0-6, 4-6.
Osaka was trailing in the first set of their second-round match when a woman in the crowd yelled, “Shit Osaka.” The tennis star stepped into the game and approached the chair umpire to do something. However, organizers were unable to identify the person who made the stubborn remark.
As the game continued, Osaka went to the chair umpire again and told him to use the microphone so she could address the crowd. A supervisor came to the court for a lengthy discussion with Osaka. The supervisor told the referee, “If it happens again, we’ll find him.” Kudermetova waited behind the baseline for the game to resume, the AP news agency reported.
However, after Sunday’s early loss, Osaka addressed the crowd who couldn’t control their emotions.
“I’ve been molested before, to be honest, like it didn’t really bother me, but molested here,” she said as the crowd tried to lift their spirits.
“I was watching a video of Venus and Serena (Williams) being abused here. If you’ve never seen it, you should check it out,” Osaka said. “I don’t know why, but it went through my head and was repeated many times. I’m trying not to cry.”
“I just wanted to say ‘thank you.'”
“I’ve been verbally abused before but verbally abused here, I was watching a video of Venus and Serena being molested here. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out.”
— Andrew Jones (@TWDTV1) March 13, 2022
Osaka has been open about her mental health issues in the past but the Japanese star said she was in good headspace before heading to the tournament. Osaka had not competed in a tournament since January, when she lost in the round of 16 at the Australian Open.
Notably, the incident Osaka was referring to happened in 2001, when Serena and Venus Williams were being harassed by the Indian Wells crowd in 2001.
Venus pulled out of her scheduled semi-final against Serena with a knee injury just before the start. As Venus and her father Richard took their seats to watch Serena in the final against Kim Clijsters, the crowd started booing. As the game went on, fans mocked Serena.
Her father said he was the target of racial abuse. The sisters boycotted the tournament for years before finally returning.