Naomi Osaka drops out of tournament in protest of police violence – Insider – INSIDER

  • Naomi Osaka has dropped out of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, in protest of police violence.
  • The 22-year-old tennis superstar was scheduled to face Elise Mertens in the semifinals Thursday at 11 a.m. but posted a note announcing her decision to not play late Wednesday night.
  • In a statement published on Twitter, Osaka wrote that “watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach.”
  • Her decision comes after protests erupted around the country in light of Sunday’s police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man whom Kenosha, Wisconsin, officers shot seven times in front of his three children.
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Naomi Osaka is the latest athlete to take a stand against police violence in America.

The fourth-ranked tennis superstar has dropped out of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, in protest of police shootings of Jacob Blake and countless others. The 22 year old was scheduled to face No. 14 Elise Mertens in the semifinals Thursday at 11 a.m. but posted a note announcing her decision to not play on Twitter late Wednesday night.

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“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.”

“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 added.

Her decision comes after protests erupted around the country in light of Sunday’s police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man whom Kenosha, Wisconsin, officers shot in front of his three children. Blake survived and is in stable condition despite taking seven bullets to the back, but the 29-year-old is now paralyzed from the waist down.

“Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach,” Osaka wrote. “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.”

Osaka follows the lead of players in the NBA, WNBA, and MLS who chose to step away from competition Wednesday in response to continued police violence against Black Americans. The Milwaukee Bucks kicked off the players’ strike by refusing to play their playoff game against the Orlando Magic Wednesday afternoon, becoming the first team to take such measures. Later, players for the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers, and Portland Trail Blazers all forced the postponement of their games, and then WNBA and MLS players followed suit.

One of tennis’ brightest young stars, Osaka has been outspoken about racial injustice and police brutality in the United States in the wake of George Floyd’s death. As the daughter of a Haitian father and Japanese mother, she has spoken publicly about her own personal brushes with racism and has tried to use her platform to raise awareness of such issues.

Check out Osaka’s full statement below: