Naomi Osaka cries after being heckled in Indian Wells

The request was denied and after their 6-0, 6-4 loss, Osaka took the microphone to speak to the fans. Wiping away her tears, she said, “I feel like I’ve cried enough on camera.

“…I’ve been heckled before, and it didn’t really bother me, but, like, heckled here?” I watched a video of Venus and Serena getting heckled here, and if you’ve never watched it, you should watch it.

“And I don’t know why, but it just popped into my head, and it got replayed a lot. I just wanted to say thank you and congratulations [to her opponent]. Thank you.”

Osaka did not speak to the media afterward.

A four-time Grand Slam singles winner, Osaka spoke about dealing with the pressures athletes have faced since withdrawing from the French Open last May, citing his mental well-being, in an announcement that came amid of a dispute over post-match press conferences. She also missed Wimbledon, but returned for the Tokyo Olympics, where, playing for Japan, she faced tremendous pressure and lost in the third round. She walked away from the sport for three months after losing to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of last year’s US Open, which she won twice, and returned to the Australian Open, losing in the third round against Amanda Anisimova.

Unranked in Indian Wells, Osaka fell from No. 1 in the world to 78th. The fan was not identified or ejected, and the crowd had supported the 24-year-old. But her comments showed that the Williams sisters’ experience in the 2001 California tournament lingers on.

Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena, was accused by tennis player Elena Dementieva of manipulating matches. Although she later claimed she was joking, there have been a number of comments about Richard Williams’ influence on the sisters. The situation reached critical mass when Venus withdrew from a semi-final match against Serena, citing injury, minutes before the match started. The crowd booed and reporters asked Venus if the women’s matches were fixed. Her answer wasn’t final, and when Serena took to the court to play Kim Clijsters in the final, the crowd turned nasty. The Williams are black. Osaka is biracial.

Richard Williams said at the time that it was called the N-word. “One guy said, ‘I wish it was 1975; you would be flayed alive. That’s when I stopped and walked in that direction,” Richard Williams said at the time. Then I realized that [the] the best thing was to handle the situation without violence. I had a hard time holding back my tears. I think Indian Wells has dishonored America.

Both Serena and Venus Williams returned to the tournament, with Serena playing in 2015 and Venus in 2016. Neither is in the tournament this year. In a 2015 essay, Serena explained that “a life in tennis later, things look different. A few months ago, when Russian official Shamil Tarpischev made racist and sexist remarks about Venus and Me, WTA and the USTA immediately condemned it. It reminded me of how far the sport has come and how far I’ve come, too.

“I’ve thought about going back to Indian Wells several times during my career. I’ve said many times that I’ll never play there again. And believe me, I meant it. scared me. What if I walked onto the pitch and the whole crowd booed me? The nightmare would start again.

She went on to write that the tournament left an imprint on her.

“It was hard for me to forget spending hours crying in the locker room at Indian Wells after winning in 2001, returning to Los Angeles feeling like I had lost the biggest game of all time. – not just a tennis match but a bigger fight for equality. . Emotionally it seemed easier to stay away. Some say I should never go back. ‘others who say I should have come back years ago. I understand both views very well and have struggled with them for a long time. I’m just following my heart on this one.