A few weeks ago, when the Milwaukee Bucks protested anti-Black racism and police brutality after Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by the cops, Naomi Osaka was one of the first non-NBA professional athletes to join in solidarity, dropping out of the Western & Southern Open, the warmup for the US Open. At the time, she said in a statement posted to social media that she wanted to “get a conversation started in a majority white sport”.
This weekend, Naomi won her second US Open title, gutting it out against Victoria Azarenka in three sets. But she was making headlines for her gutsy moves beyond each point. As you saw, Naomi took the court for every match wearing face masks with the names of Black victims of police violence: Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Philando Castile, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice.
She called herself a “vessel…to spread awareness”. And the audience for this awareness is the tennis community, tennis fans, all around the world. As she said previously, they’re “majority white”.
"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."
Naomi’s boyfriend, Cordae, who was cheering her on in the stands, also had a message.
These two young stars are using whatever platform is available to them to do more than just play and sing and rap. Naomi also used her championship opportunity to remember Kobe Bryant:
And to honour her Japanese-Haitian ancestry:
I would like to thank my ancestors because everytime I remember their blood runs through my veins I am reminded that I cannot lose.— NaomiOsakaå¤§å‚ãªãŠã¿ (@naomiosaka) September 13, 2020
She is the best of the present and the hope of the future. Yuuki!
Yours in gossip,