Naomi Osaka has agreed to play her semifinals match at the Western & Southern Open after initially sitting out in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake.
The tennis star’s agent confirmed that she will be hitting the court with Elise Mertens as the tournament opted to postpone all of the matches until August 28. “As you know, I pulled out of the tournament yesterday in support of racial injustice and continued police violence. I was (and am) ready and prepared to concede the match to my opponent,” Osaka said in a statement. “However, after my announcement and lengthy consultation with the WTA and USTA, I have agreed at their request to play on Friday. They offered to postpone all matches until Friday and in my mind that brings more attention to the movement. I want to thank the WTA and the Tournament for their support.”
She announced her decision to sit out the tournament via Twitter on August 27, writing a lengthy and powerful statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. “Before I am an athlete, I am a Black woman,” the Japanese-Haitian player wrote. “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 police is honestly making me sick to my stomach…When will it ever be enough?” she added, ending her statement with the hashtags for Blake, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and George Floyd.
Osaka’s statement stems from an incident involving Jacob Blake — a Black man — who was shot in the back by Kenosha, Wisconsin police on August 23 after he tried to break up what was described as “a domestic incident.” The event was captured on an onlooker’s phone and showed police arriving at the scene, followed by 29-year-old Blake returning to his car and opening the door before getting shot multiple times by police. He is currently recovering in the hospital and is believed to be paralyzed.
In related news, the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers have reportedly voted to the NBA season early.
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