Earlier than and after her first-round victory on the U.S. Open, Naomi Osaka wore a masks bearing the identify of Breonna Taylor, a Black lady who was fatally shot by police.
It’s simply one in all seven face coverings, every in honor of a distinct particular person, that Osaka dropped at Flushing Meadows — the identical variety of wins it takes to assert a Grand Slam trophy. The world’s highest-earning feminine athlete hopes she will get the prospect to boost consciousness about racial injustice through the use of every masks throughout her keep in New York.
“It’s fairly unhappy that seven masks isn’t sufficient for the quantity of names, so hopefully I’ll get to the finals so you possibly can see all of them,” mentioned Osaka, the champion on the 2018 U.S. Open and 2019 Australian Open.
“I’m conscious that tennis is watched everywhere in the world, and possibly there may be somebody that doesn’t know Breonna Taylor’s story. Perhaps they’ll, like, Google it or one thing,” Osaka mentioned. “For me, (it is about) simply spreading consciousness. I really feel just like the extra individuals know the story, then the extra attention-grabbing or they’ll develop into in it.”
On the courtroom, she overcame some uneven play late Monday night time to beat 81st-ranked Misaki Doi 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in an all-Japanese matchup in an empty Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The No. 4-seeded Osaka’s motion was a problem at occasions; she is coming off a left hamstring harm that pressured her to withdraw from the ultimate of the Western & Southern Open on Saturday.
“Bodily I really feel like I might be higher. However I can’t complain as a result of I gained the match,” Osaka mentioned. “Through the match, it slowly acquired slightly bit worse. Yeah, I simply really feel like there’s some restoration time that I’m missing that I want I may get again. For essentially the most half, I’m managing.”
It was through the Western & Southern Open final week that Osaka took a public stand by saying she would refuse to play her semifinal, becoming a member of athletes in numerous different sports activities who walked out to protest the taking pictures of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a police officer in Wisconsin.
Osaka’s transfer prompted event organizers to halt motion fully for a day. When play resumed, Osaka agreed to compete, in any case, as a result of the time off for the Western & Southern Open introduced further consideration to the difficulty.
Osaka walked out on courtroom for her match Monday night time with a black masks and white lettering with the identify of Taylor, a 26-year-old who was fatally shot when cops burst into her Louisville, Kentucky, residence utilizing a no-knock warrant throughout a narcotics investigation in March.
Osaka put the masks again on for her postmatch interview.
“Lots of people ask me if I really feel extra stressed ever since I began talking out extra. To be sincere, probably not,” Osaka mentioned. “At this level, like, in case you don’t like me, it’s what it’s. what I imply?”
Towards Doi, Osaka wound up with 38 unforced errors, 13 greater than her winners whole. However after a forehand into the online gave the second set to Doi, Osaka shortly went forward within the third by breaking within the opening sport.
Doi by no means has been previous the fourth spherical at any Grand Slam event. She is now 1-8 for her profession on the U.S. Open and 0-18 in opposition to opponents ranked within the high 10.
Osaka is now 34-1 in Grand Slam matches when taking the primary set; the one loss got here in opposition to Simona Halep on the 2016 French Open.
Subsequent up for her is a match in opposition to Camila Giorgi of Italy.
“She’s very unpredictable for me,” Osaka mentioned, “so I assume I simply must be on my toes.”
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