Naomi Osaka has been wearing face masks on the tennis court bearing the name of victims of police brutality
Naomi Osaka is a 22-year-old tennis champ from Japan and one of the most vocal and persistent supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement as she raises awareness about police brutality in the U.S. every time she steps onto the tennis court. Since she arrived at the U.S. Open last week, Osaka has been wearing face masks featuring the names of innocent Black men and women who were killed. On Tuesday, she received an unexpected and emotional video message from Trayvon Martin’s mom and Ahmaud Arbery’s dad, thanking her for honoring their children and continuing to bring awareness in the fight against police brutality.
So far, Osaka has worn masks in honor of Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd and told the Associated Press she brought seven masks with her to the U.S. Open. “It’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names, so hopefully I’ll get to the finals so you can see all of them,” Osaka said (via The Associated Press). “I’m aware that tennis is watched all over the world, and maybe there is someone that doesn’t know Breonna Taylor’s story. Maybe they’ll, like, Google it or something.”
On Tuesday, ESPN surprised Osaka when they showed her the touching videos from Trayvon and Ahmaud’s parents.
"I feel like I'm a vessel at this point in order to spread awareness."
Trayvon Martin's mother and Ahmaud Arbery's father thanked Naomi Osaka for representing their sons on the masks she's been wearing throughout the US Open. pic.twitter.com/0IHBU7pvx4
— espnW (@espnW) September 9, 2020
“God bless you for what you’re doing and you supporting our family with my son,” Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, Sr., said in his message. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Continue to do well. Continue to kick butt at the U.S. Open,” Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother said.
Clearly moved by the videos, Osaka told reporters, “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.”
Later she admitted that she cried when she watched the videos again.
I often wonder if what I’m doing is resonating and reaching as many people as I hope. That being said, I tried to hold it in on set but after watching these back I cried so much. The strength and the character both of these parents have is beyond me. Love you both, thank you ❤️ https://t.co/FSDLtWNJDr
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) September 9, 2020
“I often wonder if what I’m doing is resonating and reaching as many people as I hope,” Osaka tweeted. “That being said, I tried to hold it in on set but after watching these back I cried so much. The strength and the character both of these parents have is beyond me. Love you both, thank you.”
Osaka was born in Japan and represents the country in tennis, but she was raised in the U.S., and said she was just a kid when she learned of Trayvon’s murder in 2012, which was the first time she was awakened to the truth of police brutality in this country.
“I remember Trayvon’s death clearly,” she shared on Twitter earlier this week.
I remember Trayvon’s death clearly. I remember being a kid and just feeling scared.I know his death wasn’t the first but for me it was the one that opened my eyes to what was going on. To see the same things happening over and over still is sad. Things have to change.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) September 7, 2020
“I remember being a kid and just feeling scared. I know his death wasn’t the first but for me it was the one that opened my eyes to what was going on. To see the same things happening over and over still is sad. Things have to change.”