Tennis champion Naomi Osaka was brought to tears after a heckler repeatedly berated get during her match at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
According to ESPN, Osaka was battling Veronika Kudermetova in a second-round match when a woman is heard yelling, “Naomi, you suck.”
Osaka then stopped the match and asked the chair umpire if the heckler could be removed. Osaka, visibly upset, then asked if she could address the crowd after losing the match.
“To be honest, I’ve gotten heckled before, it didn’t really bother me,” she explained. “But [being] heckled here, I 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.”
Osaka has spoken openly about her battle to keep her mental health intact while pursuing her career.
Osaka withdrew from the French Open last year to protect her mental health. She also withdrew from Wimbledon. Osaka said she hoped officials would note her reasons and donate her fines to a mental health charity.
“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” she wrote at the time. “We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”
Some members of the media condemned the decisions and the athlete was even brought to tears during a press conference by an aggressive reporter.
After taking some time away from the sport, Osaka returned to the circuit with an appearance at the Australian Open at the beginning of the year.