Naomi Osaka, winner of the 2018 U.S. Open, walked out onto the court last night for her first match of the 2020 U.S. Open wearing a mask with Breonna Taylor’s name written across it.
Osaka, who is currently the highest-paid female athlete in the world, told interviewers that she wanted to raise international awareness of Taylor and her death at the hands of the police.
“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 Google it or something. For me, just spreading awareness. I feel like the more people know the story, then the more interesting or interested they’ll become in it.”
Osaka then revealed that she has seven masks in total, each one bearing the name of a different Black person killed by the police, and that “It’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names, so hopefully I’ll get to the finals and you can see all of them.”
Osaka also drew attention to the continued protests on behalf of Breonna Taylor, saying that the movement for justice on her behalf is ongoing despite the current lack of media attention.
Last week Osaka also pulled out of a match at the Western and Southern Open in New York after the shooting of Jacob Blake, saying that she felt she “had to raise her voice and that if withdrawing from a tournament would cause the most store that’s something that I had to do.” A result of her protest was the shutting down of both the women’s and men’s tours for the day.
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*First Published: Sep 1, 2020, 9:57 am
Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org