Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka is joining a flood of athletes who have decided to stand firm in the name of social justice. Osaka announced today that she will not compete in the semi final match at the Western & Southern Open scheduled on Thursday, August 27 in Ohio.
Osaka posted the news on social media that as one of the few Black tennis players in the sport, this was her way of expressing awareness to the movement that has been reignited by the recent police shooting of 29-year old Jacob Blake. Blake was shot seven times in the back on Sunday, August 23 by Officer Rusten Sheskey, a seven year veteran of the Kanosha Police Department. There is now a state investigation into the incident as Blake recuperates in a Milwaukee hospital.
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The former world No. 1 tennis player used her platform on Twitter with her nearly 582K followers to express her frustration with what has developed in our country in the last few months.
“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,” Osaka wrote in her post in both English and Japanese. “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. Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach.”
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Osaka’s decision is preceded by athletes within the NBA, WNBA, and MLB who decided to boycott tonight’s games in the name of justice for Blake. Former President Barack Obama weighed in on their collective decision saying that he is proud of them for “standing up for what they believe in.” No word on whether or not Osaka, whose father is Haitian, will resume competition next week.