Naomi Osaka Withdraws from Western and Southern Open, Then Reverses After Talks With WTA

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka has reversed her decision to withdraw from the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday and will now play on in the US Open tune-up event.

The 22-year-old Japanese had joined similar protests by athletes in the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, on Sunday in Wisconsin.

“Before I am a athlete, I am a Black woman,” she said on Twitter following her win over Anett Kontaveit. “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.”

But, following discussions with tennis authorities, she has now confirmed she has changed her mind and will play in the re-arranged match.

“As you know, I pulled out of the tournament yesterday in support of racial injustice and continued police violence,” said Osaka said n a statement provided to the Guardian. “I was (and am) ready and prepared to concede the match to my opponent.

“However, after my announcement and lengthy consultation with the WTA and USTA, I have agreed at their request to play on Friday.

“They offered to postpone all matches until Friday and in my mind that brings more attention to the movement.

“I want to thank the WTA and the Tournament for their support.”

The re-arranged semi-finals will now be played on Friday, which is scheduled to be the final day of the event, where Osaka will line up against Belgian Elise Mertens.

The US Open, where Osaka will start as one of the favourites, begins on Monday.

SOURCE: The Independent

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