Naomi Osaka Not Playing in Western & Southern Open Semifinals as Protest

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 27, 2020

Naomi Osaka, of Japan, returns a shot to Anett Kontaveit, of Estonia, during the quarterfinals at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Two-time Grand Slam winner and former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka announced that she will not participate in the Western & Southern Open semifinals amid professional sports teams and athletes' refusals to play in protest of systemic racism and police brutality.

NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ @naomiosaka


Her Twitter post ended as follows:

"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? #JacobBlake, #BreonnaTaylor, #ElijahMcClain, #GeorgeFloyd."

Osaka, who is Haitian and Japanese, has continued the most recent wave of protests, which was led by the Milwaukee Bucks, who did not take the court for the fifth game of their first-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic. Their response was sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday.

The Bucks' game was eventually postponed, and the same went for the Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers games.

Some MLB teams called their games off, led by the Milwaukee Brewers prior to their scheduled matchup with the Cincinnati Reds.

The three scheduled WNBA contests were postponed, as were all MLS contests scheduled aside from the Wednesday slate opener between Orlando City and Nashville SC.

The Western & Southern Open soon followed suit, putting a pause to its tournament, per a statement relayed by Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic: "The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognise this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27. Play will resume on Friday, August 28."

Osaka, the No. 4-ranked player in the world, is the first professional tennis player to make the decision not to play. The 2018 U.S. Open champion and 2019 Australian Open winner Osaka was scheduled to play Elise Mertens at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday in New York.

Johanna Konta and Victoria Azarenka are competing for the other finals berth.