Tennis champion Naomi Osaka pulled out of the Western & Southern Open in New York this week as form of protest against the “continued genocide of Black people.” The two-time Grand Slam singles winner issued her boycott announcement on Twitter, along with hashtag-mentions of Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and George Floyd.
“Hello, as many of you are aware I was scheduled to play my semifinals match tomorrow,” Osaka, whose boyfriend Cordae has also been vocal against injustice, began. “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.”
“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,” she continued. “Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach.”
“I’m exhausted of having a new hashtag pop up every few days and I’m extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again,” she concluded. “When will it ever be enough?”
Shortly after her announcement, the WTA, ATP and USTA showed solidarity with Osaka and postponed all play until Friday (Aug. 28).
“As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States,” a statement from the tennis associations read. “The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognize this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27. Play will resume on Friday, August 28.”
Osaka’s boycott followed similar actions from the NBA, Major League Baseball, MLS and WNBA, as players and teams postponed games in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake and ongoing protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Bucks were the first team to take a stance against Blake’s horrific shooting yesterday (Aug. 26) when they boycotted game 5 against Orlando Magic.
“When we take the court to represent Milwaukee, Wisconsin; we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable,” the team delivered in a statement. “We hold ourselves to that standard and in this moment we demand the same from lawmakers and law enforcement.”
See Osaka’s announcement on Twitter below.