Japan’s Naomi Osaka, a professional tennis player who has been ranked No. 1 by the Women's Tennis Association and is the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles, declared that she wants to spread awareness about racial injustice after the former U.S. Open champion walked onto the court with a mask bearing the name of Breonna Taylor just yesterday.
The winner of five titles on the WTA Tour, including two titles at both the Grand Slam and Premier Mandatory levels, moved to the United States as a three-year-old child, and has seven separate masks with her at Flushing Meadows and hopes to wear a different one at each stage on her path to the final.
The mask she wore in her first-round match against Misaki Doi was dedicated to Taylor, a Black woman brutally murdered by police officers who burst into her apartment in March.
“For me, I just want to spread awareness,” the fourth seed told reporters on a video meeting. “I’m aware that tennis is watched all over the world, and maybe there is someone that doesn’t know Breonna Taylor’s story.
“Maybe they’ll like to Google it or something. I feel like the more people know the story, then the more interesting or interested they’ll become in it.”
The 22-year-old famous player has been at the forefront of protests from tennis players against racial injustice in the United States recently.
She said she appreciated U.S. Open organisers putting up anti-racism artwork and ‘Black Lives Matter’ banners in the show courts of Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the absence of spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Osaka claimed after her 6-2 5-7 6-2 win over compatriot Doi, that “I just feel like we’re heading towards a great direction, and there’s a lot of players that are supporting it.
“I think there are a lot of voices that are contributing to a lot of things, so it’s very nice to see.”
While Osaka missed the crowd’s energy during tough moments on the court, she explained that the empty stands helped her focus and concentrate, as her mind can wander sometimes as a defensive way from a challenging moment.
“Like sometimes I will see a person with a cool outfit or something, they’re doing something, and I get distracted.”