Former World No. 1 Naomi Osaka says she was surprised that her decision to withdraw from the semi-finals at the Western & Southern Open led to the tournament deciding to take a one-day pause. After winning her quarter-final match on Wednesday, Osaka said she wouldn't play her semi-final match the following day to protest the police shooting of African-American Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following a similar move by basketball and baseball teams in the United States.
The USTA, ATP & WTA Tours also put out a statement and said the event would take a one-day pause and resume on Friday. Osaka did play on Friday and defeated Belgian Elise Metrens in the semi-finals while wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt in the match.
Naomi Osaka felt she needed to raise her voice
According to the News.com.au website, Osaka said she didn't think her step would create such a big deal. "I thought I would just withdraw and make a statement. But then I got a call from (WTA CEO) Steve Simon and he said he was fully supportive so I’m really grateful for that”.
“I always thought it would be nice if someone started in tennis. I’m more of a follower. I was waiting and waiting and then I realised I was the one who was going to have to take the first step. “After my quarters match I saw everything the NBA was doing.
Then I felt like I also needed to raise my voice, too. So I called Stu, my agent, and we talked it over. Then we called the WTA, and they said that they would love to support and they were going to push play back a day. So I put out my statement.
“I just wanted to create awareness in the tennis bubble. I think I did my job, I guess”. “It’s definitely a bit eye-opening but in an odd way, because I only previously thought the Big Three (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic) and Serena (Williams) would have that type of power”.
The Japanese player said that she was worried about the reaction from the other players but added that they were really nice. Her opponent, Mertens, said she did support the boycott and had no issues with the re-scheduling. Naomi Osaka will meet former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the final on Saturday.