Novak Djokovic and Sebastian Korda's fan run-ins give frightening Monica Seles vibes

It was a scary Friday at the Italian Open in more ways than one
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Let us start with the obvious. We are very relieved to hear that Novak Djokovic is doing okay. His accident on Friday while giving fans autographs was frightening, and it gave us awful Monica Seles vibes. We are also happy to see that he took the accident with a sense of humor and was seen wearing a bike helmet while signing autographs on Saturday.

It was somewhat of a relief to hear that it was not intentional that a fan's metal water bottle struck Djokovic on the head as the fan leaned over to get a closer look at the tennis star giving fans autographs. The accident emphasizes how alone and vulnerable tennis players are. They are on the court alone with fans nearby and little evidence of security surrounding the court. Other professional sports, especially in the United States, check fans' bags and would never allow a metal water bottle on the premises.

Will this accident change the access fans have to tennis players at tournaments? At a minimum, someone should evaluate the safety and security protocols so that this or nothing worse can happen again. We have come a long way since Monica Seles's awful stabbing in the 1990s, but seeing something like this scares tennis fans (of a certain age like me) because no one wants to see players injured in fan interactions.

Sebastian Korda's fan interaction was not physical but verbal

There is freedom of speech for fans attending sporting events, but there seems to be a culture surrounding all professional sports of fans demeaning players. Sebastian Korda dealt with this firsthand with a disrespectful fan who verbally abused Korda and his family throughout his match.
Those who encourage athletes to ignore it do not understand how difficult that is especially when players' loved ones are also verbally attacked.

Imagine constant chatter and verbal abuse as you are concentrating and doing your job. It is not morally right. The popularity of betting and fantasy sports (as well as social media) seem to make fans feel entitled to say what they want, when they want.

While no one was physically injured in Korda's incident and he ultimately won the match, words hurt. Players' mental health is as important as their physical health these days. Tennis needs to take a close look at these two incidents, happening on the same day in Rome, and figure out what they can do to protect the players physically, mentally, and emotionally before something catastrophic happens...again.

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