Naomi Osaka to play in New York after announcing she would opt out to bring awareness to racial injustice


Tennis: US Open
USATSI

One day after saying she would not take part in the Western & Southern Open semifinals, Naomi Osaka has decided she will in fact participate. She planned to opt out of the match to protest the “continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police” as players and teams around sports did the same.

Osaka’s agent says she will take part in the match, facing off against No. 14 Elise Mertens on Friday and Osaka released a statement to the Guardian.

The two-time Grand Slam champion said:

“As you know, I pulled out of the tournament yesterday in support of racial injustice and continued police violence. I was (and am) ready and prepared to concede the match to my opponent. However, after my announcement and lengthy consultation with the WTA and USTA, I have agreed at their request to play on Friday. They offered to postpone all matches until Friday and in my mind that brings more attention to the movement. I want to thank the WTA and the Tournament for their support.”

The finals were moved from Friday to Saturday.

Athletes have been outspoken in their movement towards equality and racial justice. The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the police shooting of Jacob Blake have sparked protests and activism around the country and from athletes who are using their platform to raise awareness of racial injustice and police brutality in the United States.

Osaka joined the conversation and wrote on Instagram on Wednesday, “…as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis. I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.” 

All NBA and WNBA games were postponed on Wednesday, started by the Milwaukee Bucks going sitting out their Game 5 first-round matchup with the Orlando Magic. Three MLB games and five MLS games were also not played on Wednesday as the movement spread across sports.

This year’s Western and Southern Open is taking place at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center — site of the US Open — in New York, to reduce travel for players participating in the Grand Slam event that follows.





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