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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 reveals tennis participant Naomi Osaka of Japan sporting protecting face masks to honor Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery and Tamir Rice through the 2020 U.S. Open tennis event in New York, U.S., in these footage 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 activities/by way of 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 hundreds of thousands watching throughout the globe on Saturday to “begin speaking” 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, sporting a masks to honor Breonna Taylor, a Black lady killed by law enforcement officials who burst into her residence in March.

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

Requested after her remaining what message she hoped to ship together with her masks, she turned the query on her interviewer, “What was the message that you just acquired?”

“The purpose is to make individuals begin speaking,” she added.

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

“All the pieces that I used to be doing off the courtroom was form of on the courtroom on the similar 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 need to present extra names.

“Some of the acknowledged personalities in Japan, Osaka despatched shockwaves by her sport earlier than the event 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 capturing of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, as athletes within the Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (NBA) and Girls’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA) mounted related boycotts.

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

“It has been greater than 50 years since athletes like Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith and the Unique 9 of ladies’s tennis all stood up and used their sport, their voices and their actions to alter 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 baby who was holding a toy gun when a police officer shot and killed him in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2014.

She mentioned she thought of sporting the masks for her trophy ceremony however was informed to not don a face overlaying for the change.

Osaka, who has immersed herself in Haitian historical past as she types her views on racial and social justice, mentioned she can be excited by assembly with the households of the seven individuals who appeared on her masks through the event.

“I study extra by experiences,” she mentioned. “For me, I really feel like sharing tales and listening to individuals’s experiences could be very helpful.”

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