Andy Murray claims Naomi Osaka heckling 'part of sport' after tennis star breaks down in tears

Murray said all sportspeople must be able to tolerate taunts from crowds

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Sir Andy Murray has said heckling is “part of the sport” in response to the jeers that caused four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka to break down on court.

During a second-round defeat by Veronika Kudermetova at Indian Wells, Osaka was reduced to tears after a spectator disrupted play and yelled: “Naomi, you suck!”

Through tears, the former world no.1 complained to the umpire about the incident, sparking a debate about the behaviour of spectators at sporting events.

While many went to social media to say the taunting of the tennis star, who took time out in 2021 to look after her mental health, was undeserved, others insisted crowd taunts are just part of the sporting world and simply something that has to be tolerated.

Sir Andy weighed in on the conversation saying he couldn’t understand why verbal abuse was tolerated in sporting arenas, but that he has come to accept that it's a part of the game.

Naomi Osaka as she talks to referee after a fan disrupted before the start of her 2nd round match against Veronika Kudermetova
Naomi Osaka as she talks to referee after a fan disrupted before the start of her 2nd round match against Veronika Kudermetova

He said after his defeat in the tournament: “I always think, how is that allowed? Like, 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."

Sir Andy went on to explain how he’s often found himself in atmospheres that are “intense” and “not that comfortable,” especially when playing away from home.

The former world no.1 continued: “The people that come to watch, 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 been part of sports as well.”

He added: “I would say 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 be used to that as well or be able to deal with that too, even though it’s not pleasant.

“I feel for Naomi, that obviously it upset her a lot and, but it’s always been something that’s been part of sport.

"You have to be prepared for that in some ways and be able to tolerate it because it does happen regularly across all sports."