Two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka confirmed she would not play her seminals match Thursday at the Western and Southern Open to raise awareness about racial inequality after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
Osaka, the world’s highest-paid female athlete, said that there were much more important matters than watching her play tennis. In her view, what is happening in the United States is a “continued genocide of Black people.”
The tennis player noted that she did not expect anything ”drastic” to happen following her decision to pull out. It would be enough to start this conversation in a predominantly white sport, she highlighted.
In an interview with The Guardian earlier this week, the 22-year-old athlete admitted she had attended Black Lives Matter protests this year. She opposed the widespread opinion that athletes should only focus on sport and are not supposed to get involved in politics.
She also reflected on her personal experience with white supremacy and racism. Naomi Osaka was born in Japan, in a family of a Japanese mother and Haitian father. Her family moved to the United State when she was a child. She is now competing for Japan.
However, when she goes back there, she feels some “little microaggression” because of her skin color. For instance, when she goes to a restaurant, she is given an English menu as people do not expect her to speak Japanese.
Following her message, the US Association of Tennis Professionals and the Women’s Tennis Association decided to ”recognize the moment” and postponed the competition until Aug. 28.
Osaka’s protest followed the unprecedented decision by NBA players to not play games in a stance for racial injustice in the United States. Many color players have spoken in personal terms regarding police violence against black people in the United States.
Nike, the official maker of the NBA and WNBA uniforms, supported the players, urging Americans not to turn a blind eye to the increased racism.
President Trump’s son-in-law and his advisor, Jared Kushner, dismissed the significance of the athletes’ actions. He called them ”very fortunate” to afford to take a day off from work without financial consequences. However, he said he would reach out to LeBron James to discuss the situation.
Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, also dismissed the protests. He also criticized the NBA for its ties to China, adding that the administration is not supposed to take sides in the boycott.
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