Naomi Osaka pledges tennis tournament earnings to Haiti earthquake relief

Osaka is set to compete in the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament in Cincinnati Monday

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Naomi Osaka announced that proceeds received from a tennis tournament she is scheduled to compete in this week will be given to relief efforts in Haiti following an earthquake that devastated the nation on Saturday.

The tennis star made the announcement in a Twitter posting. The four-time Grand Slam winner wrote about the hardships that have befallen the Caribbean country.

“Really hurts to see all the devastation that’s going on in Haiti, and I feel like we really can’t catch a break,” wrote Osaka, who is half Haitian by way of her father. “I’m about to play a tournament this week and I’ll give all the prize money to relief efforts for Haiti. I know our ancestors (sic) blood is strong we’ll keep rising.”

Haiti was hit with a 7.2 magnitude earthquake Saturday morning. The death toll topped 700 as of Sunday afternoon and more than 2,800 were injured in the disaster, according to Haiti’s Office of Civil Protection. The event comes just one month after the death of the nation’s president, Jovenel Moise, who was assassinated during a raid on his residence.

Ranked No. 2 worldwide, Osaka, who has a bye, will begin play in the second round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati Monday. Her first opponent may end up being 17-year-old phenom Coco Gauff or a qualifier, according to the Women’s Tennis Association.

Naomi Osaka of Team Japan prepares to serve during her Women’s Singles Third Round match against Marketa Vondrousova of Team Czech Republic on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Tennis Park on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

The two famously battled in the 2019 U.S. Open, in which Osaka beat the then 15-year-old Gauff in a match that elevated both their public profiles.

As for potential earnings, the winner of the tournament stands to make $255,220, according to TMZ. The runner-up will earn $188,945 and each semi-finalist will get $100,250.

Osaka’s last action on the court came in July at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Representing Japan, where her mother is from, she reached the third round before losing to the Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova, as previously reported by theGrio.

After bowing out in Tokyo, Osaka would admit that the pressure of competing in the Olympics for the first time, on top of the criticism of taking time off for mental health reasons, was “a bit much.”

“I’ve taken long breaks before and I’ve managed to do well,” Osaka said. “I’m not saying that I did bad right now, but I do know that my expectations were a lot higher.”

Osaka made headlines for withdrawing from the 2021 French Open after being threatened with fines for refusing to participate in press conferences. She stated she skipped press and ultimately dropped out of the tournament to get her depression and social anxiety in check, theGrio previously reported.

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