Champion Naomi Osaka harnesses sport’s biggest spotlight in fight for racial justice

By: Reuters |

September 13, 2020 9:16:55 am

A mixture image exhibits tennis participant Naomi Osaka of Japan carrying protecting face masks to honor Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery and Tamir Rice in the course of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis match in New York, U.S., in these photos taken August 31, September 2, September 4, September 6, September 8, September 10, September 12, 2020. MANDATORY CREDIT Robert Deutsch and Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/through REUTERS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Naomi Osaka capped a transformative U.S. Open with one other Grand Slam title and a problem to the thousands and thousands watching throughout the globe on Saturday to “start talking” about racial justice.

Striding into Arthur Ashe Stadium for her first-round match 12 days in the past, Osaka put her activism front-and-center from the beginning, carrying a masks to honor Breonna Taylor, a Black girl killed by law enforcement officials who burst into her condominium in March.

Osaka would go on to acknowledge seven totally different Black Americans – one for every of the seven rounds of the match – bringing the Black Lives Matter protests towards police brutality to her sport’s broad worldwide fan base.

Asked after her remaining what message she hoped to ship along with her masks, she turned the query on her interviewer, “What was the message that you got?”

“The point is to make people start talking,” she added.

Osaka, who was born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mom, spent her childhood in the United States and lives in Los Angeles. She represents her start nation in competitors however her affect defies worldwide borders.

“Everything that I was doing off the court was sort of on the court at the same time too,” she mentioned in a televised interview after her three-sets win over Victoria Azarenka. “It made me stronger as a result of I felt like I’ve extra need to win as a result of I wish to present extra names.

“One of essentially the most acknowledged personalities in Japan, Osaka despatched shockwaves via her sport earlier than the match even started.She pressured the postponement of the Western & Southern Open semi-final late final month after opting out of the match in protest over the police taking pictures of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, as athletes in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) mounted comparable boycotts.

“Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach,” she wrote on social media on the time.Tennis pioneer Billie Jean King mentioned the motion put her in the pantheon of the best athlete activists.

“It has been more than 50 years since athletes like Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith and the Original 9 of women’s tennis all stood up and used their sport, their voices and their actions to change humanity,” she mentioned.

“The baton has been handed and Naomi has accepted it.

“Her remaining masks of the U.S. Open bore the identify of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black youngster who was holding a toy gun when a police officer shot and killed him in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2014.

She mentioned she considered carrying the masks for her trophy ceremony however was advised to not don a face masking for the alternate.

Osaka, who has immersed herself in Haitian historical past as she types her views on racial and social justice, mentioned she would have an interest in assembly with the households of the seven individuals who appeared on her masks in the course of the match.

“I learn more through experiences,” she mentioned. “For me, I feel like sharing stories and hearing people’s experiences is very valuable.”

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