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Naomi Osaka Brought to Tears After Being Heckled at Indian Wells

Naomi Osaka’s match against Veronika Kudermetova at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells was disruspted by a heckler Saturday. 

According to multiple reports, the heckler appeared to yell “Naomi, you suck!” while Kudermetova was preparing to serve. Osaka then tried to get the heckler ejected from the match.

In between games, Osaka asked the chair umpire if she could use the microphone to address the crowd, but her request was denied. Osaka then sat in her seat with tears in her eyes before the next game began.

Kudermetova ultimately defeated Osaka, 6-0, 6-4, to advance to the next round.

After the match, Osaka addressed the crowd, saying that the heckler reminder her of the time both Serena and Venus Williams were heckled at Indian Wells in 2001.

“To be honest, I’ve gotten heckled before, it didn’t really bother me,” Osaka said. “… I’ve watched a video of Venus and Serena getting heckled here, and if you’ve never watched it, you should watch it. I don’t know why, but it went into my head and it got replayed a lot. I’m trying not to cry. I just wanted to say thank you and congratulations.” 

That incident occurred in 2001 when Russian player Elena Dementieva accused Richard Williams, Serena and Venus’s father, of fixing a match between Serena and Venus when Venus withdrew. During the final, the crowd booed Serena, and Richard said he heard the crowd issue racial slurs toward him throughout the match. The Williams sisters boycotted the event for 14 years before Serena returned in 2015.

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