After her victorious US Open match, Naomi Osaka was showed a video from Trayvon Martin’s mother and Ahmaud Arbery’s father, who thanked her for wearing their children’s names on her customized face masks. Osaka wore a mask that said “Breonna Taylor” earlier this month to her first-round US Open match and has continued wearing masks with the names of victims of police or racial violence.
Broadcast by ESPN, Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton thanked Osaka for acknowledging her son with her mask.
“I just wanna say thank you to Naomi Osaka for representing Trayvon Martin on your customized mask and also for Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor,” Fulton said. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Continue to do well; continue to kick butt at the US Open. Thank you.”
Ahmaud Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery also thanked the tennis star.
“Naomi, I just want to tell you thank you for the support for my family and God bless you for what you’re doing and for supporting my family [and] my son,” he said. “My family is really, really appreciating that. God bless you.”
Choked up, Osaka told reporters that the appreciation from Ahmaud and Martin’s families “means a lot.”
“They’re so strong,” she said. “I’m not sure what I would be able to do if I was in their position. I feel like I’m a vessel, at this point, in order to spread awareness and hopefully — it’s not gonna dull the pain — but hopefully I can help with anything that they need.”
“Actually, I was just trying really hard not to cry,” she added at a news conference later on. “It’s extremely touching that they would feel touched by what I’m doing.”
Osaka previously boycotted one of her matches in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Since returning to the court, she pledged to wear the customized masks to continue to bring awareness to victims and their families.
“I’m aware that tennis is watched all over the world and maybe there is someone that doesn’t know Breonna Taylor’s story,” she told CNN after wearing her mask with Taylor’s name. “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.”
Along with Taylor, Arbery and Martin’s names, Osaka has also worn masks that say George Floyd and Elijah McClain. See the touching video from Ahmaud and Martin’s parents — and Osaka’s reaction — below.
After her @USOpen match tonight, @ESPN showed @NaomiOsaka video messages from @SybrinaFulton, mother of #TrayvonMartin, and Marcus Arbery, father of #AhmaudArbery — two of the five names she's worn on masks before and after her matches. #SayTheirNames pic.twitter.com/1BOyzQbzg9— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) September 9, 2020