At the age of 22, Naomi Osaka is a superstar in the world of tennis. The young phenom has been dominant on the court, reaching the semifinals of the U.S. Open, but it’s what she has done off the court that has also elevated her to star status.
Osaka has been outspoken on the issues of systemic racism and police brutality, willing to forfeit the Western & Southern Open, but agreed to return when tournament officials halted all matches and have worn the names of victims of police brutality written on her face masks: Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, and George Floyd.
Osaka’s messages have reached the families of victims shot and killed by a police officer. After her quarterfinals win over Shelby Rogers in two sets, the No. 4 ranked player had video messages played for her during an interview from Trayvon Martin‘s mom and Ahmaud Arbery‘s dad at the U.S. Open on Tuesday night (September 8), Sybrina Fulton, and Marcus Arbery Sr., respectively.
“I just want to say thank you to Naomi Osaka for representing Trayvon Martin on your customized mask and also for Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor,” Fulton said in a video showed by ESPN. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Continue to do well. Continue to kick butt at the U.S. Open.”
Then, the message from Arbery Sr. was played.
“Naomi, I just want to tell you, thank you for the support of my family and God bless you for what you’re doing and you supporting our family for my son,” Arbery Sr. said. “My family really, really appreciates that.”
Osaka fought back tears and said she is humbled by the messages.
“It’s extremely touching that they would feel touched by what I’m doing,” Osaka said. “I feel like what I’m doing is nothing. It’s a speck of what I could be doing. I’m really grateful, and I’m really humbled.”
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