Naomi Osaka: If I couldn’t play tennis, what could I be doing to make a difference?



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Naomi Osaka: If I couldn’t play tennis, what could I be doing to make a difference?

Two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has written an op-ed for Esquire magazine about being a vocal supporter of the BlackLivesMatter movement.

Naomi Osaka on the BlackLivesMatter movement

Osaka has been one of the many tennis players who have taken a strong stand against racial discrimination in recent weeks, along with Frances Tiafoe, Serena Williams and Coco Gauff besides others.

In her op-ed Osaka says, "I honestly haven’t had the time to pause and reflect until now, which I think we can all relate to after the pandemic changed all of our lives overnight. In the past few months, I’ve re-evaluated what’s actually important in my life.

It’s a reset that perhaps I greatly needed. I asked myself, ‘If I couldn’t play tennis, what could I be doing to make a difference?’ I decided it was time to speak up. So what I will say here, I never would have imagined writing two years ago, when I won the US Open and my life changed overnight.

I guess that when I read this piece back in the future, my evolution as a person will have continued. But for the here and now, this is who I am, and here are my thoughts. Osaka continues, "It’s going to take a collective effort.

Today’s protests have momentum and promise. This time, there is a different energy. Different faces are involved in the movement. It’s gone global—from Oslo to Osaka, from Tallahassee to Tokyo, protests have included people of all races and ethnicities.

" Speaking about racism in Japan, Osaka writes, "There were even Black Lives Matter marches in Japan–something many of us would never have expected or imagined possible. Japan is a very homogenous country, so tackling racism has been challenging for me.

I have received racist comments online and even on TV. But that’s the minority. In reality, biracial people—especially biracial athletes—are the future of Japan. We (myself, Rui Hatchimura and others) have been embraced by the majority of the public, fans, sponsors, and media.

We can’t let the ignorance of a few hold back the progressiveness of the masses. The love I feel from Japanese fans of all ages, especially the younger ones, has always been heart-warming. I am so proud to represent Japan and always will be."

Naomi Osaka is a former World No. and is currently ranked No. 10 in the world. She has won five titles on the WTA Tour, including the 2018 US Open and the 2019 Australian Open. She became the highest-paid female athlete ever having earned $37 million from June 2019 to May 2020.