Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has opened up about receiving hate messages on social media platforms, claiming she doesn’t “even look at them.”
The 23-year-old crashed in the second round of the WTA Madrid Masters, losing 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to Karolina Muchova from Czechia.
“Yeah for me, I saw a bit of a boycott, I saw the messages they sent,” she said after her match.
“But I would say the messages affected me more when I was younger. I think I am lucky because I get a lot of messages now and most of them are positive.
“Honestly I don’t even look at them, because I don’t expect anyone to be able to do what I can’t do myself, and so I put this logic every time someone bets on me and they lose money. If they can’t play tennis like I can play, then I don’t care what they say.”
Online abuse has been a problem most athletes across sports have faced.
Recently, former French footballer Thierry Henry announced he was quitting online platforms until social media companies improved their filtering process to quell online abuse.
The English Premier League, International Tennis Federation (ITF), International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) and even racquet-manufacturer Babolat announced a four-day boycott from all social media activity, ending on May 3.
— Babolat (@babolat) April 30, 2021
“Tennis players, coaches and officials all over the world receive abusive messages through social media on a daily basis – and this is on the rise – referring to their race, their gender, their looks and their ability,” the ITF said in a press release.
ITF President David Haggerty added in the statement: “The level of abuse individuals are forced to endure is completely unacceptable, which is why we are joining this boycott and calling on social media companies to act now to protect individuals who are merely doing their jobs.”
Players face racist abuse
Last year, amidst a horrid run of form, French player Gael Monfils opened up about the abuse he received online.
Osaka meanwhile has been a frequent user on social media and has used the platform to speak up against issues like the Black Lives Matter Movement and recently, the Anti-Asian Hatred in the United States.
She’s now called for banning online abusers.
“I think it’s good that organisations recognise that, and hopefully they are able to do more. I think someday they should ban the IP address from anyone who bets or whatever, whoever sends hate messages.”