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getting help

Naomi Osaka says she 'finally' started going to therapy after being heckled at Indian Wells

Tennis star Naomi Osaka says she has now started going to therapy, which she finds helpful, after recently being reduced to tears by a heckler. 

Osaka told reporters at the Miami Open that after the recent heckling incident at the BNP Paribas Open, which "took me out of my element," she "finally started talking to a therapist," who has given her "strategies" for dealing with this kind of thing.

"I realize how helpful it is," Osaka said. "I'm glad that I have people around me that told me to go in that direction." 

Osaka cried on the court at Indian Wells earlier this month after a heckler shouted at her, "Naomi, you suck!" She said at the time, "I've gotten heckled before, like it really didn't bother me. But heckled here … like I've watched a video of Venus and Serena getting heckled here … and I don't know why, but it went into my head and it got replayed a lot." 

But Osaka told reporters this week she feels "prepared" for being heckled now and is "bracing" herself before matches to "know that that's a thing that could happen." She also said she started going to therapy because her sister "kind of seemed very concerned for me," and she cited advice from her coach, Wim Fissette, about it.

"He was like, 'You hire a coach for tennis … and the mind is such a big thing, and if you can get a professional to help you out .5 percent, that alone is worth it.'" 

Osaka has been open about her mental health struggles. In May 2021, she withdrew from the French Open after saying she would skip mandatory media sessions. "I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences," she said. She has also said she has "suffered long bouts of depression."