A heckler who shouted at Naomi Osaka at a tournament in California made the tennis star cry Saturday.
Osaka was playing Veronika Kudermetova at the Indian Wells Masters in Indian Wells, California, when a woman yelled out, “Naomi, you suck!”
The crowd jeered the heckler.
Shortly after the heckler’s comment, Osaka asked the umpire whether she could use the microphone to address the crowd.
“I just want to say something. I’m not going to curse. I don’t curse. It’s just weighing on my heart,” Osaka told the umpire.
The umpire denied her request, forcing Osaka to wait to make her comments until after the match, which she lost.
“I just want to say, ‘Thank you,'” Osaka said as her voice quivered and she appeared to wipe her eyes. “I feel like I’ve cried enough on camera. I just wanted to say, to be honest, I’ve been heckled before, like it didn’t really bother me.”
Osaka went on to say getting heckled at Indian Wells, where she had watched videos of Venus and Serena Williams being heckled, “went into my head and got replayed a lot.”
She told the crowd she was trying not to cry as her voice broke.
“I just wanted to say ‘thank you,’ and ‘congratulations,'” she said, gesturing toward Kudermetova.
The pressures of the tennis world have caused Osaka to consider taking a hiatus from the sport in the past. Last year, she announced that she was considering a break from tennis.
“I feel like for me, recently, when I win, I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad,” Osaka said last year.
Osaka pulled out of the French Open before the second round to take a mental health break after having announced she would not participate in news conferences in Paris.
She also sat out Wimbledon before she participated in the Tokyo Olympics, where she lit the cauldron as one of Japan’s most famous athletes.