US Open 2020 champion Naomi Osaka had a clear message throughout her championship run in New York, ‘Black Lives Matter’, when she wore seven different masks in each of the rounds of the annual tournament. Each of the masks, which Osaka started wearing from Aug 31 when the tournament started, had the name of a black person (Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castle and Tamir Rice) whose death has been repeatedly raised in nationwide protests about racial injustice.
Osaka, after winning the championship on Sunday, said that masks were the way for her to use the platform to protest the injustice and advocate that black lives matter.
Speaking to the media after Sunday’s game, Osaka said, “Well, what was the message that you got was more the question. I feel like the point is to make people start talking.” The grand slam champion feels that raising awareness even on social media can also lead more and more people to talk about the issue.
Osaka’s gesture of wearing the mask as a sign of protest and solidarity led her to face a lot of heat on the social media as people asked her to keep politics out of the game, while a few other felt that a player’s activism leads to distraction from their game, as it adds an emotional pressure of fighting for something greater than the game itself, therefore weakening performance. However, Osaka addressed all those on the social media with her particular brand of steely verve when she took to Twitter on Wednesday to say that instead of being distracted by her activism, she actually used it to spur her on to victory.
“All the people that were telling me to “keep politics out of sports”, (which it wasn’t political at all), really inspired me to win. You better believe I’m gonna try to be on your tv for as long as possible,” Osaka tweeted.
Well, Osaka isn’t the only champion athlete who have used their platform to try and keep the black lives issue in the public consciousness. On Sunday, at the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello, Italy, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also showed his support for Breonna Taylor, when he wore a T-shirt demanding the arrest of the police personnels who killed Taylor.
The British champion driver also took to Twitter showing his support and raising his voice against the killers of Taylor, who was killed six months ago in her Louisville residence.
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