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Naomi Osaka wears Breonna Taylor mask to US Open match

The tennis champion previously boycotted the tournament to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Naomi Osaka USA Today Sports

Naomi Osaka is continuing to speak up for victims of police brutality. Walking onto the court for her first-round US Open match on Monday (Aug. 31), the tennis champion donned a black mask that read “Breonna Taylor,” who was fatally shot by police in Louisville, Kentucky back in March.

“I’m aware that tennis is watched all over the world and maybe there is someone that doesn’t know Breonna Taylor’s story,” Osaka, the highest-paid female athlete, told CNN. “Maybe they’ll like Google it or something. For me, [it’s] just [about] spreading awareness. I feel like the more people know the story, then the more interesting or interested they’ll become in it.”

Osaka pulled out of her Western & Southern Open in New York City last week in solidarity with ongoing protests. Several athletes and teams postponed or boycotted sporting events to rally against the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In an on-court interview with ESPN, Osaka said she has seven masks dedicated to victims of police brutality. She wore the one with Taylor’s name first “because she was most important. There are still marches going on even though people don’t really talk about it.”

Osaka plans to wear each of the masks throughout the US Open.

“It’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names, so hopefully I’ll get to the finals and you can see all of them,” the 22-year-old said.

Osaka’s boyfriend Cordae has also been active in demanding justice for Taylor. In July, The Lost Boy rapper was arrested, along with 86 others, during a protest outside of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s home.

Det. Brett Hankison — who was involved in Taylor’s shooting — was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department earlier this summer. The other two officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, have been on administrative reassignment for months. No arrests or charges have been brought to any officers.

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