August 26, 2020

Naomi Osaka Drops Out Of Tennis Tournament Semifinal To Protest Police Brutality

[Forbes, Getty Images]


Naomi Osaka, one of the world’s top tennis players and the female athlete with the highest single-year earnings of all time, by Forbes’ estimation, announced Wednesday evening she would sit out the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open tournament the following day to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake and other victims of police brutality.

Getty Images


Osaka, currently ranked 10th in the Women’s Tennis Association, told followers Wednesday she would not be competing the following morning as scheduled in a match against Elise Mertens, a Belgian player.

“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,” Osaka said in a statement posted on Twitter in English and Japanese.

Osaka said she believed skipping out on the semifinal would likely not cause anything “drastic,” to happen, but said “If I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.”

She named Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and George Floyd at the end of her note, all Black people who—with the exception of Blake, who survived being shot Sunday night—died after fatal interactions with police officers.

Osaka is the latest athlete to step off the court as a stand against police brutality, following the players of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Washington Mystics basketball teams.

After Osaka’s statement, it was announced play for the entire Western & Southern Open tournament would be paused for one day on Thursday, with a statement from the Association of Tennis Professionals Tour Twitter account saying in a statement “as a sport, tennis is taking a stand against racial inequality and social injustice.”


“Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach,” Osaka said on Twitter. “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. When will it ever be enough?”


The shooting of Blake has caused a nationwide furor after the 29-year-old was shot in the back by police as he reached into his car. Blake’s father told the Chicago Sun-Times his son is currently paralyzed below his waist. Representatives for the Blake family and witnesses said Blake had been trying to stop a physical altercation. A Wisconsin Department of Justice statement said officers attempted to arrest Blake after responding to a call from a woman reporting her boyfriend who she said “was present and was not supposed to be on the premises.” 


$37 million. That’s how much Osaka brought home in the 12 months to May, in the largest single-year haul for a female athlete in history at only 22 years old. She broke the previous record set by fellow tennis star Serena Williams, who Osaka has said she looks up to as an inspiration.

By Carlie Porterfield

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