This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
BEFORE and after her first-round victory at the US Open, Naomi Osaka wore a mask bearing the name of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot by police.
It’s just one of seven face coverings, each in honour of a different person, that Osaka brought to Flushing Meadows — the same number of wins it takes to claim a Grand Slam trophy.
The world’s highest-earning female athlete hopes she can get the chance to raise awareness about racial injustice by using each mask during her stay in New York.
“It’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names, so hopefully I’ll get to the finals so you can see all of them,” said Osaka, the champion at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open.
“I’m aware that tennis is watched all over the world, and maybe there is someone that doesn’t know Breonna Taylor’s story. Maybe they’ll, like, Google it or something,” Osaka said.
“For me, (it’s about) just spreading awareness. I feel like the more people know the story, then the more interesting or interested they’ll become in it.”
On the court, she overcame some uneven play late Monday night to beat 81st-ranked Misaki Doi 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in an all-Japanese match-up in an empty Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Osaka’s movement was an issue at times. She is coming off a left hamstring injury that forced her to withdraw from the final of the Western and Southern Open on Saturday.
“Physically I feel like I could be better. But I can’t complain because I won the match,” Osaka said.
“During the match, it slowly got a little bit worse. Yeah, I just feel like there’s some recovery time that I’m lacking that I wish I could get back. For the most part, I’m managing.”
It was during the Western and Southern Open last week that Osaka took a public stand by saying she would refuse to play her semifinal, joining athletes in various other sports who went on strike to protest at the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by a police officer in Wisconsin.
Osaka’s move prompted tournament organisers to halt action entirely for a day. When play resumed, Osaka agreed to compete, after all, because the day off for the Western and Southern Open brought additional attention to the issue.
Osaka walked out on court for her match on Monday night with a black mask and white lettering with the name of Taylor, a 26-year-old who was fatally shot when police officers burst into her Louisville, Kentucky apartment using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation in March.
Osaka put the mask back on for her post-match interview.
“A lot of people ask me if I feel more stressed out ever since I started speaking out more. To be honest, not really,” Osaka said.
“At this point, if you don’t like me, it is what it is. You know what I mean?”
Against Doi, Osaka wound up with 38 unforced errors, 13 more than her winners total. But after a forehand into the net gave the second set to Doi, Osaka quickly went ahead in the third by breaking in the opening game.
Doi never has been past the fourth round at any Grand Slam tournament. She is now 1-8 for her career at the US Open and 0-18 against opponents ranked in the top 10.
Osaka is now 34-1 in Grand Slam matches when taking the first set; the only loss came against Simona Halep at the 2016 French Open.
Next up for her is a match against Camila Giorgi of Italy.
“She’s very unpredictable for me,” Osaka said, “so I guess I just have to be on my toes.”
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.