Naomi Osaka is continuing to show her support for the many Black victims who have died from racial violence. The tennis star wore a black mask that read the name of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was fatally shot by white men while jogging through a Georgia neighborhood.
“This did not have to happen, none of these deaths had to happen,” she told reporters on Friday (Sep. 4). “I just want everyone to know the names more.”
This is Osaka’s third tribute this week. During Monday’s (Aug. 31) match, she wore a mask honoring Breonna Taylor, the Black EMT who was fatally shot in her home by Louisville police officers.
On Wednesday (Sep. 2), she wore a mask honoring Elijah McClain, the 23-year-old Black man who died after being placed in a chokehold by Colorado police officers. Osaka told reporters that she brought seven different masks with her to the tournament — one for every match until the finals.
“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,” Osaka said on Monday.
Last week, Osaka, who is currently the highest-paid female athlete in the world, pulled out of her Western & Southern Open in New York City to stand in solidarity with other athletes who boycotted their games due to the recent shooting of Jacob Blake.
“Hello, as many of you are aware I was scheduled to play my semifinals match tomorrow,” Osaka wrote in a statement. “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 hands 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,” the tennis star concluded. “When will it ever be enough?”