Tennis star Naomi Osaka is using her platform to pay tribute to Breonna Taylor and spread awareness about racial injustice.
On Monday, during a match against Misaki Doi in the US Open’s first round, Osaka walked onto the court wearing a black face mask with the name of Breonna Taylor on it. Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, . Despite protests against Taylor’s death, none of the police officers involved have been charged. The tribute comes as people across the U.S. and the world reckon with racial injustice and police brutality.
According to the Washington Post, Osaka brought seven masks to the tournament, each featuring a different victim of police violence. “I’m aware that tennis is watched all over the world, and maybe there is someone that doesn’t know Breonna Taylor’s story,” Osaka told reporters after her win over Doi, per the Washington Post. “Maybe they’ll Google it or something. For me, [it’s] just spreading awareness. I feel like the more people know the story, then the more interesting or interested they’ll become in it.”
This isn’t the first time Osaka’s taken a stand against racial injustice. Osaka refused to play in last Thursday’s semifinal match at the Western & Southern Open, joining other athletes’ walkouts following the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 23. This prompted tournament organizers to postpone the match until Friday, when Osaka returned to play.
“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 hands of police is honestly making me sick to my stomach,” Osaka tweeted last week.