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14th Mar 2022

Andy Murray says Naomi Osaka has ‘to be able to tolerate’ hecklers

Daniel Brown

‘You have to be prepared for that in some ways and be able to tolerate it’

Andy Murray has suggested that tennis players need ‘to be able to tolerate’ hecklers in the crowd after Naomi Osaka was reduced to tears by taunts in her Indian Wells defeat by Veronika Kudermetova.

Osaka was upset by a crowd member shouting “Naomi, you suck”, which lead to her complaining to the umpire and asking if she could use their microphone to address the crowd during the tie.

The 24-year-old – who took time out of the 2021 season to look after her mental health – said that the incident reminded her of Venus and Serena Williams being heckled in 2001.

However, Murray has admitted that ‘it’s always been part of sport’ and that you have to be able to tolerate it due to how regularly it can occur.

Speaking after his defeat in the tournament to Alexander Bublik, the Scotsman said: “It’s a difficult one.

“I’ve often thought watching certain sports, I wouldn’t say I’ve often seen it loads in tennis – I know it’s happened but I don’t think it’s that common in tennis – but if I watch a football match and a player’s going to take a throw-in or a corner kick and the crowd are just hurling insults at those individuals, I always think like, you know, how’s that allowed? You can’t do that.

“If you’re doing that to someone when you’re walking down the street or in any other sort of work environment, that’s obviously not tolerated.

“I’ve played in certain atmospheres as well myself in tennis, like Davis Cup atmospheres, away from home, especially where the atmosphere’s intense, and sometimes things are said and it’s not that comfortable.

“The people that come to watch, obviously you want them to be there and supporting the players and not making it more difficult for them. I don’t know, but it’s also something that’s always just kind of been part of sports as well.

“If you go and watch a basketball match, for example, and a player’s taking free throws, I would say like almost every basketball match I’ve been to one of the players has been heckled by the crowd as well, and whilst it is wrong for those individuals to be doing it, the athletes have to kind of be used to that as well or be able to deal with that too, even though it’s not pleasant.

“So, I feel for Naomi, that obviously it upset her a lot, but it’s always been something that’s been part of sport as well. So you have to be prepared for that in some ways and be able to tolerate it because it does happen regularly across all sports.”

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