Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, and Marcus Arbery Sr., Arbery’s father, both thanked Osaka for paying tribute to their children by wearing masks with their names printed on them during the tournament.
“I just want to say thank you to Naomi Osaka for representing Trayvon Martin on your customized mask, and also for Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor,” Fulton said. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Continue to do well, continue to kick butt at the U.S. Open.”
Meanwhile, Arbery Sr. said his family “really, really appreciates” what Osaka is doing.
“Thank you for the support on my family and God bless you for what you’re doing and you’re supporting our family with my son … and God bless you,” he added.
Osaka’s response: The tennis player, who won the 2018 U.S. Open against Serena Williams, was moved when she spoke about the message during a telecast.
“I don’t know. I feel like I’m a vessel, at this point, and in order to spread awareness and, hopefully, it’s not going to dull the pain, but hopefully I can, you know, help with anything that they need,” she said.
However, at a later conference, she revealed she was “just trying really hard not to cry.”
“For me, it’s a bit surreal. It’s extremely touching that they would feel touched by what I’m doing. For me, I feel like what I’ve doing is nothing. It’s a speck of what I could be doing,” Osaka said. “It was really emotional…I’m really grateful, and I’m really humbled.”
“It means a lot; I feel like they’re so strong, I’m not sure what I would be able to do if I was in their position,” Osaka said about the families.
World platform: Osaka has been using her platform as a way to raise awareness against racial injustice in the U.S. by wearing masks with printed names of the many victims.
She also wore an Elijah McClain mask for the second round of the tournament. McClain, 23, went into a coma and died after being put in a chokehold by Aurora, Colorado police in August.
“I think tennis, people watch it all around the world and things that we think are common names are probably not common overseas,” Osaka said. “For me I just want people to have more knowledge. I feel like the platform that I have right now is something that I used to take for granted and I just feel like I should be using it for something.”
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