Naomi Osaka brought seven face masks to the US Open, each one honouring a victim of violence .
Osaka, 22, wore a black mask bearing the name of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was shot to death by police in March in Louisville, when she took the court Monday on Day 1 of the tournament. She arrived for the U.S. Open with seven masks, one for each round of the tournament and each bearing the name of a victim of violence.
“I’m aware that tennis is watched all over the world, and maybe there is someone that doesn’t know Breonna Taylor’s story,” Osaka, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, told reporters after her 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Misaki Doi.
“Maybe they’ll Google it or something. For me, [it’s] just spreading awareness. I feel like the more people know the story, then the more interesting or interested they’ll become in it.”
“It’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names,” said Osaka, the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open champion. “Hopefully I’ll get to the finals and you can see all of them.”
Osaka, whose parents are from Japan and Haiti, grew up mostly in Florida and explained her decision last week, saying, “I felt like I needed to raise my voice.” When she took the court Friday for her semifinal, she wore a black T-shirt with the image of a fist and “Black Lives Matter” on it.
“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 tweeted August 26.
“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.”