Naomi Osaka, who was to play in the finals of the Western & Southern Open on Saturday, has withdrawn from the tournament with a hamstring injury. Her opponent, Victoria Azarenka, took the title by default.
“I’m sorry to have to withdraw today with an injury,” Osaka said via the WTA. “I pulled my left hamstring yesterday in the second set tiebreak and it has not recovered overnight as I had hoped. This has been an emotional week and I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support.”
Osaka, the No. 10 ranked women’s tennis player in the world, joined in the racial justice strikes across sports last week. On Wednesday she announced that she would not play her semifinal match against Elise Mertens on Thursday to protest systemic racism and police brutality.
“Before I am an athlete, I am a Black woman,” Osaka wrote. “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 resumed playing on Thursday, defeating Mertens but injuring her hamstring. In her comments on Saturday morning, she made her hamstring problem sound like a small injury that hasn’t healed the way she hoped. But if it’s something more serious, that might put her participation in the US Open in doubt. The tournament starts in just two days, and Osaka is looking to avenge her fourth-round exit in 2019 and retake the title she first won in 2018.
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