Naomi Osaka Drops Out of Tournament Semifinals to Protest for Jacob Blake

naomi osaka
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 10: Naomi Osaka of Japan looks on in her quarter final match against Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands during day five of the 2020 Brisbane International at Pat Rafter Arena on January 10, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Editor’s Note: Naomi Osaka has opted to continue the tournament after the USTA, ATP, and WTA said they would halt play on Thursday. This article has been updated with a statement from the USTA.

Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka has joined other notable athletes in standing up against police violence by abruptly dropping out of a tournament she’s currently competing in.

A state of paralysis: Osaka’s decision comes following the shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, a Black American shot by a White police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Insider reported.

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  • Blake, who was shot seven times in front of his three children on Sunday, is now in stable condition.
  • According to his family, the injuries Blake sustained left him paralyzed from the waist down.
  • The incident has since sparked an eruption of protests across the country.
  • Players in the NBA, the WNBA, and MLS expressed their solidarity with the victim’s family and the protesters by choosing to stop playing in games starting on Wednesday. 
  • The Milwaukee Bucks who were supposed to play a playoff game against the Orlando Magic, refused to play Wednesday afternoon, prompting the postponement of the NBA games scheduled for that day.
  • Other NBA teams, and the WNBA and MLS teams soon followed suit.

Against injustice: Expressing her support for the protests on Wednesday, the 22-year-old athlete announced her decision to quit the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

  • “Before I am a athlete, I am a black woman,” Osaka wrote in her tweet. “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.”
  • She clarified that while she doesn’t expect anything drastic to change by not playing, she believes she can achieve something by starting a conversation about it. 
  • Her announcement came a day before her scheduled semifinals match against Elise Mertens. 
  • “Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach,” Osaka further 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, the daughter of a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, has consistently used her platform and influence as an athlete to speak out against racial injustice and police brutality in the U.S. She has spoken about the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers as well as her own experiences with racism and discrimination.

The U.S. Tennis Association said the tournament would resume on Friday.

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“As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States,” said a statement from the USTA, the Association of Tennis Professionals and the Women’s Tennis Association.

Feature Image via Getty

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