Naomi Osaka withdraws from semifinals match to protest racial injustice

'Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of police is honestly making me sick to my stomach.'

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Naomi Osaka has announced she’s not going to play in the semifinals of the Southern & Western Open tennis tournament Thursday in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Blake, an unarmed Black man, was shot multiple times in the back by a white police officer on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin in front of his children. He is now paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors do not know if his paralysis will be permanent, theGRIO previously reported. 

“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,” the Japanese tennis star wrote in a lengthy post on Twitter. 

Read More: Naomi Osaka surpasses Serena Williams as the highest-paid female athlete

Osaka, who has a Japanese mother and Haitian father, added: “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 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,” Osaka continued. “When will it ever be enough? #JacobBlake, #BreonnaTaylor, #ElijahMcclain, #GeorgeFloyd.”

The fourth-seeded, 2-time Grand Slam champion defeated No. 12 Anett Kontaveit 4-6 6-2 7-5 on Wednesday to reach the Western & Southern Open semifinals for the first time, per Reuters. Osaka was due to meet No. 14 Elise Mertens in Thursday’s semi-final at the WTA Premier event in New York. 

Her announcement to back out of the match follows reports that NBA, WNBA, MLB and Major League Soccer games were called off Wednesday as athletes protested police brutality and demanded racial justice. 

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