Just so we’re clear, Naomi Osaka has no intention of losing in the U.S. Open anytime soon.
I say that because, on Monday night, she took the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City donning a black face mask with Breonna Taylor’s name on it.
She then proceeded to stomp a mudhole in Misaki Doi (6-2, 5-7, 6-2) in their first-round match. Afterward, she revealed she has aspirations to do the exact same thing six more times because she has seven masks on deck for the duration of the U.S. Open—each presumably adorned with a different name of a victim of racialized violence.
“It’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names,” she said. “So hopefully, I’ll get to the finals and you can see all of them.”
Last week, the 2018 U.S. Open champ stood in solidarity with the Milwaukee Bucks and other sports teams who refused to play as a result of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Prior to her scheduled match against Elise Mertens during the Western & Southern Open semifinals, Osaka announced that she would not be taking the court.
“Hello, as many of you are aware I was scheduled to play my semifinals match tomorrow,” she tweeted. “However, before I am an athlete, I am a Black woman. And 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.”
As we reported here at The Root, hours after Osaka’s announcement, the Western & Southern Open decided to suspend all matches that were scheduled that day:
“As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust into the forefront in the United States.”
The rest of the sports world better prepare accordingly, because much like everyone else, I plan on seeing all seven of those masks.