Naomi Osaka tearfully addressed fans at the BNP Paribas Open this past Saturday.
The former World No. 1 Champion’s message followed her loss to Veronika Kudermetova. Osaka was brought to tears after the first game of the match, when a fan began to heckle and shout “Naomi, you suck!” from the stands.
Osaka, visibly upset, approached the umpire’s chair to ask that the fan be removed and for permission to address the audience.
“Can I borrow your microphone?” Osaka asked the umpire. “I just want to say something. I’m not going to curse. I don’t curse. It’s just weighing on my heart.”
Both requests were denied, with a supervisor simply telling the umpire, “if it happens again, we’re going to find him.” Osaka was not granted permission to address the crowd until after her match with Kundermetova.
“I feel like I’ve cried enough on camera,” Osaka began as she emotionally addressed the crowd. “I’ve gotten heckled before but, like, heckled here? I watched a video of Venus and Serena [Williams] getting heckled here. If you haven’t watched it, you should watch it. And I don’t know why, but it went into my head, and it got replayed a lot and I’m trying not to cry.”
“I just wanted to say ‘Thank You.”
“I’ve gotten heckled before but heckled here, I watched a video of Venus and Serena getting heckled here. If you haven’t watched it, you should watch it.”
— Andrew Jones (@TWDTV1) March 13, 2022
Osaka referred to the 2001 Indian Wells tournament in which Venus, Serena, and their father, Richard Williams were aggressively booed by the crowd as Venus and Richard took their seats to watch Serena’s match. Serena continued to be heckled even after defeating Kim Clijsters.
Serena and Venus Williams boycotted the competition and did not return until 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Naomi Osaka was a child when Venus and Serena faced the despicable racism at Indian Wells a few decades ago.
Those scars were re-awoken for Naomi tonight, and I feel terrible for her.
— Justin Frederic (@justinfrederic) March 13, 2022
It was not about the defeat. It was the location of the defeat. Can you imagine getting heckled in a historical place for the best tennis players in the world. Venus and Serena Williams were heckled in this place and it could have destroyed them if not for their mental endurance
— Culture Seekers (@seekers_culture) March 13, 2022
Reading a bunch of whack tweets about how Naomi Osaka is “too sensitive”, needs to “toughen up”, and is “mentally weak”. It’s her sensitivity, toughness, and mental strength that got her to #1 in the world and 4 grand slams. She doesn’t need to change a damn thing.
— FFootbalrog (@footbalrog) March 13, 2022
Despite some public criticism that Osaka should grow thicker skin and learn how to handle hecklers for future occurences, the four-time Grand Slam Champion’s feelings were still validated by many, to include Andrew Krasny, the on-court interviewer at the BNP Paribas Open.
“On behalf of everybody here, out of about 10,000 people one person’s voice can’t weigh out 9,999 others. We love you here, ” Krasny said.
For More Naomi Osaka News: