Western & Southern Open to Pause Play Thursday to Protest Jacob Blake Shooting

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 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

The ATP, WTA and United States Tennis Association announced Wednesday that play will be paused Thursday as part of ongoing protests against police violence in the sports world.

The announcement came about two hours after Naomi Osaka, who was scheduled to play Elise Mertens in a semifinals match, announced she would not be playing in protest of discrimination and police brutality against Black people in the United States.

"I don't expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing," Osaka wrote. "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?"

The Milwaukee Bucks began a domino effect of protests across professional sports Wednesday when they refused to play, with games in the NBA, WNBA, MLS and MLB being postponed after other players and teams decided to sit out. NBA players are currently deciding whether they wish to continue the season or not play through the remainder of the playoffs. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported NBA games are not expected to be played Thursday.

The killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd created unrest that led to nationwide protests over the last two months, and tensions were stoked again this week when Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back while he leaned into the driverside of his car.

Protests have been ongoing in Kenosha since Blake's shooting, with two protesters killed and another injured in a shooting Tuesday. Kyle Rittenhouse, a white 17-year-old who has posted support for "Blue Lives Matter" and President Donald Trump, has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide.