Eurosport expert Chris Evert has given her views on hecklers in tennis and Naomi Osaka being a "bright light" in the sport after her experience at Indian Wells.
A spectator shouted “Naomi, you suck” at the Japanese star at the event in the California desert, with the four-time Grand Slam champion visibly upset during her straight-sets defeat against Veronika Kudermetova.
Osaka wanted to speak to the fan using the umpire’s microphone – a request which was denied – although she was interviewed afterwards and referenced a video of abuse being aimed at Serena and Venus Williams at the same tournament in 2001 as a reason for the heckling particularly affecting her.
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"I just wanted to say thank you. I feel like I’ve cried enough on camera,” Osaka said. "To be honest, I’ve gotten heckled before. It didn’t really bother me, but it’s like, heckled here.
"I’ve 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’m trying not to cry."
Andy Murray said players must learn to “tolerate” heckling despite questioning why spectators attend events simply to direct abuse at players, while Rafael Nadal said he felt "terrible" for Osaka but acknowledged that such experiences with fans "happens" in the sport.
While Evert, like Murray and Nadal, believes that players "have to learn to tune out" heckling from the stands, she believes that Osaka is a "bright light" when it comes to mental wellness and is "a role model for so many people" with her bravery and openness.
"I would never use the word 'overreacted' with Naomi; she is a sensitive human being," Evert told Eurosport.
"I think Naomi is learning now or will learn, that when you are competing in front of thousands of people and you are that exposed on the court, there may be one or two hecklers out there, that you have to learn to tune out.
"Unfortunately, you have to have a thick skin. But you can have a thick skin while you're competing and then you can still be sensitive off the court with your feelings, but you have to learn that balance, that combination because hecklers have been there for a long time and I think every top player has had that experience, which is disturbing and heartbreaking.

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"But at the same time, you don't want to let one moment like that affect you so that you never play the same and you lose the match, especially somebody like Naomi, who has been such a bright light for not only tennis players but all athletes, all people when it comes to mental wellness.
"She has taught us a lot and she has really exposed that area of health that is very, very important. She has been, you know, such a role model for so many people.
"To let one person who may have had too much to drink or wasn't, isn't happy with their life, or you know, to let one person bother her… I think she will hopefully learn that this is part of the price that you pay if you are famous, successful and playing and exposed to thousands of people.
"I think this is a process for her. This is a learning process for her in life and on the tennis court. I think all of us who know her support her in her journey and hope that she finds the balance again to be tough on the court and then sensitive off of it because that is the real her."
Murray had said of the incident: "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 is 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 is that allowed? You can’t do that.
"If you are doing that to someone when you are walking down the street or in any other sort of work environment, that is obviously not tolerated.

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"I’ve obviously played in certain atmospheres as well myself in tennis, like Davis Cup atmospheres, away from home, especially, where the atmosphere is intense, and sometimes things are said and it is not that comfortable.
"Obviously 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 has always just kind of been part of sports as well.
"If you go and watch a basketball match, for example, and a player is 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 obviously have to kind of be used to that as well or be able to deal with that too, even though it is not pleasant.
"So, obviously I feel for Naomi, that obviously it upset her a lot, but it has always been something that has 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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