The request was denied and after her 6-0, 6-4 loss, Osaka did take the mic to talk to followers. Wiping away tears, she mentioned, “I feel like I’ve cried enough on camera.
“… I’ve gotten 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 went into my head, and it got replayed a lot. I just wanted to say thank you and congratulations [to her opponent]. Thank you.”
Osaka didn’t communicate with the media afterward.
A four-time Grand Slam singles winner, Osaka has spoken about coping with the pressures athletes face since withdrawing from the French Open final May, citing her psychological well-being, in an announcement that got here amid a dispute about post-match news conferences. She additionally missed Wimbledon, however returned for the Tokyo Olympics, the place, taking part in for Japan, she confronted monumental strain and misplaced within the third spherical. She stepped away from the game for 3 months after shedding to Leylah Fernandez within the third spherical of final 12 months’s U.S. Open, which she has received twice, and returned the Australian Open, shedding within the third spherical to Amanda Anisimova.
Unseeded in Indian Wells, Osaka has dropped from No. 1 in the world to 78th. The fan was not identified or ejected, and the crowd had been supportive of the 24-year-old. But her comments showed that the Williams sisters’ experience in the California tournament in 2001 lingers.
Richard Williams, Venus and Serena’s father, was accused by tennis player Elena Dementieva of manipulating matches. Although she later claimed she was joking, there were a number of comments about Richard Williams’s influence over the sisters. The situation reached critical mass when Venus withdrew from a semifinal against Serena, citing an injury, minutes before the match was to begin. The crowd booed and reporters asked Venus about whether the women’s matches were fixed. Her answer wasn’t definitive and, when Serena stepped onto the court to play Kim Clijsters in the final, the crowd got nasty. The Williamses are Black. Osaka is biracial.
Richard Williams said at the time that he was called the N-word. “One guy said, ‘I wish it was ’75; we’d skin you alive.’ That’s when I stopped and walked toward that way,” Richard Williams said then. Then I realized that [the] best bet was to handle the situation non-violently. I had trouble holding back tears. I think Indian Wells disgraced America.”
Serena and Venus Williams did return to the match, with Serena taking part in in 2015 and Venus in 2016. Neither is within the match this 12 months. In an essay in 2015, Serena defined that “a lifetime in tennis later, things feel different. A few months ago, when Russian official Shamil Tarpischev made racist and sexist remarks about Venus and me, the WTA and USTA immediately condemned him. It reminded me how far the sport has come, and how far I’ve come. too.
“I have thought about going back to Indian Wells many times over my career. I said a few times that I would never play there again. And believe me, I meant it. I admit it scared me. What if I walked onto the court and the entire crowd booed me? The nightmare would start all over.”
She went on to jot down that the match had left an imprint on her.
“It has been difficult for me to forget spending hours crying in the Indian Wells locker room after winning in 2001, driving back to Los Angeles feeling as if I had lost the biggest game ever — not a mere tennis game but a bigger fight for equality. Emotionally it seemed easier to stay away. There are some who say I should never go back. There are others who say I should’ve returned years ago. I understand both perspectives very well and wrestled with them for a long time. I’m just following my heart on this one.”