UPDATED, 9:15 AM: The Women’s Tennis Association, ATP Tour and USTA had decided not to play matches scheduled for Thursday at the Western & Southern Open.
PREVIOUSLY, August 26: The pro sports boycotts over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin continue to grow.
Following the lead of the NBA, its Milwaukee Bucks and other teams and leagues, two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka of Japan said today that she is skipping her semifinal match Thursday at the Western & Southern Open in New York City.
“Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman,” she wrote in a social media post (read it in full below). “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.”
NBA Cancels Thursday Games, But Deal In Works To Resume Playoffs this Weekend
The boycotts have grown since this afternoon’s Game 5 of Milwaukee Bucks-Orlando Magic first-round playoff series initially was delayed and later postponed. The Magic players initially came out on the court to warm up, but the Bucks didn’t and the visiting team eventually left. The NBA announced soon afterward that all of its games scheduled for today and tonight have been postponed. The WNBA, MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers and other baseball teams later joined the boycott.
Currently ranked No. 10 by the Women’s Tennis Association, Osaka came into the Western & Southern Open seeded fourth. She was set to play the semifinal against Belgium’s Elise Mertens on Thursday morning at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.
Osaka was the world’s No. 1-ranked WTA player for six months last year after the second of two consecutive Grand Slam singles wins at the 2018 U.S Open and the 2019 Australian Open.
Here is the full text of Osaka’s statement:
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? #JacobBlake, #BreonnaTaylor, #ElijahMcclain, #GeorgeFloyd
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