Update: After wearing face masks with the names Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, and Philando Castile written on them, Naomi Osaka arrived at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday for the 2020 US Open Finals wearing a face mask with Tamir Rice's name on it. She went onto win the final match 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 against Victoria Azarenka, thus taking home her third Grand Slam tournament victory.
This story was originally published on September 1.
On Monday night, tennis star Naomi Osaka took to Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first round of the 2020 US Open. Before the first serve of the match, against Misaki Doi, the 2018 US Open winner sent a message with her mask: Justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman who was killed by Louisville police on March 13.
As Osaka revealed in an interview, this is only one of the masks that she plans on wearing to raise awareness. “I have seven,” Osaka told reporters. “It’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names [of Black people killed by members of law enforcement], so hopefully, I’ll get to the finals and you can see all of them.”
This is not the first time that Osaka has used fashion to make a statement about racial injustice — in fact, it isn’t even the first time in the last week. Last Wednesday, as several sports teams went on strike in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, Osaka announced that she would be sitting out of the Western & Southern Open’s semifinals which were set to take place a day later on Thursday. According to The New York Times, she said that there were “more important matters at hand.” When tennis officials agreed to delay matches by a day, she played. On Friday, she walked onto the court wearing a black T-shirt with “Black Lives Matter” written on it.
See her mask, below, and check back to see who else Osaka will honor at the 2020 US Open.
Round 1: Breonna Taylor
For her first match of the 2020 US Open, Naomi Osaka wore a black mask with Breonna Taylor's name written on it.
Round 2: Elijah McClain
Osaka wore a face mask with Elijah McClain's name written on it during her second round at the US Open. "I still don't think his name is very put out there compared to George Floyd or Breonna Taylor," Osaka told reporters. The 23-year-old Black man died after being confronted by Aurora, Colorado police officers while walking home from a convenience store in August of 2019. She also asked those watching on TV to Google his name and share his story.
Round 3: Ahmaud Arbery
On Friday, Osaka wore a mask featuring the name of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by two white men while jogging on the afternoon of February 23.
Round 4: Trayvon Martin
On Sunday, Osaka walked onto the court wearing a face mask bearing the name of Trayvon Martin. "I remember Trayvon’s death clearly," she wrote on Twitter. "I remember being a kid and just feeling scared. I know his death wasn’t the first, but for me, it was the one that opened my eyes to what was going on. To see the same things happening over and over still is sad. Things have to change." Martin was 17-years-old when he was fatally shot by George Zimmermann in Sanford, Florida in 2012.
Quarterfinals: George Floyd
At the US Open Quarterfinals on Tuesday evening, Osaka showed up for the match in a face mask with the name George Floyd printed on it. Floyd, a 46-year-old father, was killed on May 25 by the Minneapolis police. His death sparked international protests against racial injustice.
Semifinals: Philando Castile
On Thursday, Naomi Osaka beat out Jennifer Brady for a spot in the US Open Finals, and in doing so, shed light on the death of Philando Castile, a 32-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by Minnesota police during a traffic stop in 2016. Castile's girlfriend, who filmed the aftermath of the shooting, said he was reaching for his license when he was killed. “For me, [it’s about] just spreading awareness,” said Osaka regarding her reasons for wearing these masks. “I feel like the more people know the story, then the more interesting or interested they’ll become in it.”
Finals: Tamir Rice
Naomi Osaka arrived at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday for her final round of the 2020 US Open in a mask with Tamir Rice's name on it. Rice was just 12-years-old when he was shot and killed in Cleveland by a white police officer in 2014. "I wanted more people to say more names,” Osaka said following her victory. “The point is to make people start talking."