Tennis phenom Naomi Osaka rolled into the U.S. Open quarterfinals by beating Anett Kontaveit, but it was the mask Osaka wore upon entering Flushing Meadows that made news Sunday.
Osaka wore a mask noting the name of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, who, in 2012, was shot and killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman was later acquitted of the murder.
The 22-year-old Osaka has worn a different mask for every one of her matches during the 2020 U.S. Open. She has so far donned masks bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery and, most recently, Martin to show her support for the social justice movement Black Lives Matter.
“I remember Trayvon’s death clearly,” the tennis star, born to a Haitian father and Japanese mother, wrote on Twitter. “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.”
Said Osaka: “Things have to change.”
Her choice of masks moved many.
One Twitter user wrote: “I remember too, thanks for using your platform in this way. We love you so much, Naomi.”
Osaka, who is a two-time Grand Slam champion, will play in her quarter-final today against Shelby Rogers, who is currently unseeded.
“I haven’t played her in a while but she’s a great player,” Osaka said about Rogers. “I’m just going into it very optimistic. I feel like I would be the underdog since I’ve never beaten her.”
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!