Naomi Osaka Thanks Ancestors for Helping Her Win Second US Open

Naomi Osaka Thanks Ancestors for Helping Her Win Second US Open
Carl Samson
September 14, 2020
Naomi Osaka claimed her second U.S. Open championship and third overall Grand Slam title on Saturday.
Representing Japan, the 22-year-old tennis star scored 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 to beat Victoria Azarenka, the only Belarusian player with a Grand Slam singles title.
Osaka is the first player in 26 years to win the finals of the U.S. Open women’s singles after losing the opening set. With Saturday’s victory, she ascends to No. 3 at the WTA rankings.
“I was thinking about all the times I’ve watched the great players sort of collapse onto the ground and look up into the sky,” Osaka told ESPN. “I’ve always wanted to see what they saw.”
Osaka drew attention throughout the tournament for her choice of masks, which remembered African Americans who lost their lives to police brutality.
She planned to feature a total of seven names, kicking off with Breonna Taylor’s on Aug. 31.
On Saturday, she featured Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy killed in Cleveland, Ohio in 2014.
“The point is to make people start talking,” she said at the award ceremony, according to The New York Times.
Japanese officials, news outlets and social media users hailed Osaka’s latest victory with support for her actions against racial injustice and police brutality.
“Osaka achieved the feat of winning a record third title in the Grand Slam singles as an Asian player,” Nikkan Sports wrote.
The Mainichi Shimbun noted, “The victory embodied the feeling of bereaved families who hope to prevent a repeat of tragedies and change society.” 
“I am very happy that Naomi, who is an influential person, said ‘Black Lives Matter’ in a public place,” said 16-year-old fan Mari Maeda, according to AFP.
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Osaka, who was born to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, honored and expressed gratitude to her ancestors on Sunday.
“I would like to thank my ancestors because everytime I remember their blood runs through my veins I am reminded that I cannot lose,” she wrote on Twitter.
The young tennis star also shared a photo of herself paying tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, who became her mentor after their meeting in June 2019.
“I wore this jersey every day after my matches. I truly think it gave me strength. Always,” Osaka captioned the Instagram photo, which showed her wearing a number 8 Bryant Lakers jersey.
Osaka previously declined to compete in the Italian Open, which starts Monday. She is yet to decide about the French Open, which was postponed in late May and rescheduled to begin on Sept. 27.
Feature Images via US Open Tennis Championships
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