Osaka using US Open as platform for activism

Naomi Osaka arrived on court for her opening US Open game on Monday wearing a face mask bearing the name of Breonna Taylor, the African-American nurse shot dead by police who raided her apartment in Kentucky in March.

By the time the US Open fortnight is over, Osaka says she hopes to have honored the memory of six other victims of racial injustice.

“For me, I just want to spread awareness,” Osaka said after her 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win over Japanese compatriot Misaki Doi.

“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 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, of Haitian and Japanese heritage, said she has six other masks bearing the names of black people killed by police that she hoped to wear throughout the Grand Slam. 

“I have seven and it’s quite sad that seven is not enough for the amount of names,” Osaka said. 

“Hopefully I’ll get to the finals and you’ll see all of them.”

The 22-year-old fourth seed has spoken out repeatedly in the wake of the protests that swept the United States following the death of George Floyd during a confrontation with police in May.

Osaka said she is increasingly comfortable in her role as athlete activist.

“A lot of people ask me if I feel more stressed out ever since I started speaking out more,” she said Monday. 

“To be honest, not really. At this point, like, if you don’t like me, it is what it is. You know what I mean?”

Last week Osaka threatened to withdraw from her semi-final at the Western & Southern Open following the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Wisconsin.

She later reversed that decision and played, but was forced to withdraw from Saturday’s final because of a nagging problem with her left hamstring.

There was little sign of the injury hampering her against Doi on Monday, although Osaka revealed after her win she was not at full fitness.

“Physically I feel like I could be better,” she said. “But I can’t complain because I won the match. 

“For me, it’s somewhat interesting. I feel like every Grand Slam I play is a different story. You almost feel completely different at every Grand Slam.

“I think it’s just a matter of getting through it. I’m just going to see what happens.”

© Agence France-Presse

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Agence France Presse
Agence France Presse works from worldwide. AFP Photo's official Twitter account. Tweeting news and features from Agence France-Presse's global photo network Agence France Presse has over 120540 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

Fake trafficking news targets migrants

Exaggerated reports on social media of human trafficking syndicates snatching people in broad daylight legitimate xenophobia while deflecting from the real problems in society

It’s not a ‘second wave’: Covid resurges because safety measures are relaxed or ignored

A simple model shows how complacency in South Africa will cause the number of infections to go on an upward trend again

How US foreign policy under Donald Trump has affected Africa

Lesotho has been used as a microcosm in this article to reflect how the foreign policy has affected Africa

Trouble brewing for Kenya’s coffee growers

Kenyan farmers say theft of their crop is endemic – and they suspect collusion

Elnathan John: Our merciful Nigerian father

“They say people disappear, young men with dreadlocked hair, with tattoos, or even just carrying a laptop in a backpack,” writes Elnathan John in a reflective essay about Nigeria.

Deconstructing South Africa’s construction industry performance

The construction industry has contracted sharply, partly due to Covid, and needs to rebalance its focus if it wants to survive
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

Fake trafficking news targets migrants

Exaggerated reports on social media of human trafficking syndicates snatching people in broad daylight legitimate xenophobia while deflecting from the real problems in society

It’s not a ‘second wave’: Covid resurges because safety measures...

A simple model shows how complacency in South Africa will cause the number of infections to go on an upward trend again

Trouble brewing for Kenya’s coffee growers

Kenyan farmers say theft of their crop is endemic – and they suspect collusion

Unisa shortlists two candidates for the vice-chancellor job

The outgoing vice-chancellor’s term has been extended to April to allow for a smooth hand-over
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday