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Disturbing trend continues as Naomi Osaka faces verbal harassment

The words had a piercing clarity in the silence dictated by tennis custom. They had the effect of a dagger to the heart of Naomi Osaka, who was regrouping after her serve had been broken by Veronika Kudermetova in the opening game of their second-round match at the BNP Paribas Open late Saturday.

“Naomi, you suck!” came the cry from above the court in Stadium 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Osaka, who has been admirably open about battling depression and took a long mental-health break last year, became tearful and agitated. Although other spectators cheered and chanted her name, she was blanked in the first set and outplayed 6-4 in the second by Kudermetova, who’s on the rise but hasn’t approached the level Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam singles champion, can reach at peak form.

It’s important to understand why Osaka was so profoundly upset at something that was far from the worst epithet ever hurled at an athlete or the most offensive sentiment uttered at a game in recent memory.

This season alone, a woman sitting courtside in Indianapolis told Lakers star LeBron James she hoped his son Bronny would die in a car accident. At James’ urging, the woman and her companion were ejected. Lakers teammate Carmelo Anthony asked for the ejection of two fans at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia after he said they called him “boy.” Austin Rivers of the Denver Nuggets, angered by insults targeting his family during a game in Oklahoma City, had two fans ejected from their courtside seats.metasports