Naomi Osaka named 2021 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year

"My main hopes for the future would just be to have helped or impacted as many people as I could," said Osaka

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Naomi Osaka, the four-time Grand Slam champion, was named Sportswoman of the Year at the 21st Laureus World Sports Awards on Thursday.

The 23-year-old accepted the award virtually from a training base in Los Angeles and shared her intentions of using her platform for the greater good.

In this handout screengrab released on May 6, Naomi Osaka speaks after winning the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award during the Laureus World Sports Awards 2021 Virtual Award Ceremony. (Photo by Handout/Laureus via Getty Images)

“I am so happy to receive this Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award and I know that, for me, I’ve watched so many of my role models win this award growing up, so it definitely means a lot to now be holding it,” Osaka holding her trophy.

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“Looking ahead, my main hopes for the future would just be to have helped or impacted as many people as I could. You know, if you have a platform I think it’s very important to use it,” she continued.

Osaka celebrated on social media, saying, “Crazy times, we really won a laureus.”

“I just wanna say I really appreciate you all. As you can tell, I don’t know where this road will lead but thanks for accompanying me on this journey lol,” she wrote.

Laureus recognized the tennis player, who won the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award in 2018, for her philanthropy and activism in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, according to Revolt.

During last year’s U.S. Open, Osaka wore different seven masks in each round displaying the names of Black people who died from police brutality: Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Avery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castle, and Tamir Rice.

When asked by a reporter what message she wanted to send by wearing the masks, she responded, “Well, what was the message that you got was more the question. I feel like the point is to make people start talking.”

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Osaka watched videos of Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, and Marcus Arbery, the father of Ahmaud Arbery, who thanked the athlete after the U.S. Open for using her platform to pay tribute and bring visibility to their deaths.

“I feel like they’re so strong, I’m not sure what I would be able to do if I was in their position, but I feel like I’m a vessel at this point, in order to spread awareness. It’s not going to dull the pain, but hopefully I can help with anything that they need,” she said in response.

theGrio recently reported that Osaka is set to expand her tennis academy in Haiti and Los Angeles to give opportunities to aspiring athletes.

theGrio’s Keydra Manns contributed to this report. 

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