Naomi Osaka Australian Open 2022

Naomi Osaka reveals she ‘finally started’ seeing therapist after Indian Wells heckling

After a challenging year on the WTA Tour last season, Naomi Osaka revealed she has “finally started” seeing a therapist after being persuaded to by her family and coach.

During her second round defeat to Veronika Kudermetova at the Indian Wells Masters, four-time Grand Slam ace Naomi Osaka was almost reduced to tears after a rowdy fan shouted “Naomi, you suck!”

The heckler seemed to affect Osaka heavily and sparked conversation and discussion regarding the engrained nature of heckling in professional sports and how athletes are expected to deal with such abuse and harassment.

As a result, 21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal and three-time Slam icon Andy Murray both offered the Japanese star their sympathy, but said it’s something athletes have to learn to deal with.

This situation comes after Osaka endured a challenging year on the WTA Tour last year. She took the tough decision to withdraw from both the French Open and the Wimbledon Championships, citing depression and anxiety as the major contributing factors.

Speaking after her opening round Miami Open victory over Astra Sharma, Osaka said “I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but I finally started talking to a therapist after Indian Wells.

“It only took like a year after the French Open (in 2021 when she announced a hiatus from the sport).

“She kind of told me strategies. I realise how helpful it is. I’m glad that I have people around me that told me to go in that direction.

“But, yeah, I was basically just remembering all the things that she told me to do, just to take deep breaths and reset myself when I need to.”

Naomi was persuaded to seek professional help by her sister Mari. Speaking on her sister’s input, Naomi said “honestly because my sister kind of seemed very concerned for me.

“I don’t know. I feel like I’ve been trying a lot of different things because I tend to internalise things, and I also want to do everything by myself.”

Similarly, she added “[Coach] Wim [Fissette] kind of put it in a really good way. He was like ‘you hire a coach for tennis, for fitness. The mind is such a big thing. If you can get a professional to help you out 0.5 per cent, that alone is worth it.'”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.