Naomi Osaka will keep up racial injustice awareness with masks at U.S. Open

Naomi Osaka will continue to speak out, or rather let her face mask do some of the speaking for her.

Osaka arrived at Arthur Ashe Stadium for her opening-round U.S. Open match on Monday wearing a plain black mask with Breonna Taylor’s name on the front. It honored the former Louisville EMT who was shot and killed by police while she was sleeping in her apartment earlier this year.

After defeating Japan’s Misaki Doi 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, Osaka again put on the mask and said she has more to wear throughout the course of the tournament.

Osaka brings 7 masks to raise awareness

Osaka said she has seven masks with different names. It’s the exact number needed to reach the U.S. Open finals, which she said she hopes to do.

Osaka, seeded fourth and named the world’s highest-earning female athlete, wants to use the masks to raise awareness about racial injustice.

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

Osaka, 22, is of Haitian and Japanese heritage. She won the 2018 U.S. Open and the 2019 Australian Open. Her next opponent is Italy’s Camila Giorgi.

Osaka undeterred by speaking out

Naomi Osaka in a black Breonna Taylor mask about to hit a tennis ball.
Naomi Osaka wore a mask in honor of Breonna Taylor on the first day of the U.S. Open. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The young tennis star has become more outspoken since she first broke onto the Grand Slam scene. Last week Osaka joined in the racial justice strike across sports and announced she would not play her semifinal mach at the Western & Southern Open, which was also held in New York.

The tournament suspended play on Thursday after her announcement. She did play in the rescheduled semifinal.

She isn’t concerned with people liking what she’s doing.

Osaka later withdrew from the Western & Southern Open final with a hamstring injury and told the AP she’s “managing” the injury at the Grand Slam.

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