Naomi Osaka withdraws from WTA’s Western & Southern Open semi-final in protest over Jacob Blake shooting

Naomi Osaka has announced her withdrawal from the Western & Southern Open semi-final match
Naomi Osaka has announced her withdrawal from the Western & Southern Open semi-final match - (Copyright Twitter: Naomi Osaka)
16:42pm, Thu 27 Aug 2020
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Two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka has pulled out of the WTA’s Western & Southern Open semi-final in protest over the shooting of Jacob Blake. 

The Japanese tennis star, 22, was due to play Elise Mertens on Thursday, but made the decision to withdraw because ‘watching the continued genocide of Black people’ is ‘making her sick to her stomach’.

The world No 10 wrote on Twitter: "Hello, as many of you are aware I was scheduled to play my semifinals match tomorrow.

"However, before I am an athlete, I am a black woman. 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.

"Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach.

“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. When will it ever be enough?”

At the end of her statement she named victims of police brutality in the US including Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and George Floyd.

Organisers of the WTA event taking place at Flushing Meadows in New York City said the tournament will be suspended until Friday. 

The statement said: “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.”

Major sporting events in the US have been postponed after athletes protested against racial injustice.

These include three NBA play-off games, three Major League Baseball matches, three WNBA fixtures and five Major League Soccer games. 

Tennis legend Billie Jean King supported Osaka, writing: “A brave & impactful move by ⁦⁦ @naomiosaka ⁩, in support of the protest movement moving through the sports world. She was to play in the semis tomorrow. Athletes using platforms for good means so much. Don’t remain silent.”

Blake, a 29 year-old black man, was shot in the back seven times by police in Wisconsin on August 23, and it is feared he may never walk again. 

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