Naomi Osaka Brought 7 Specific Masks to US Open

Each bears the name of a victim of racial injustice
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2020 1:22 PM CDT
Naomi Osaka's US Open Masks Are Getting Noticed
Naomi Osaka, of Japan, wears a mask in honor of Breonna Taylor before her match against Misaki Doi, of Japan, during the first round of the US Open tennis championships, Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in New York.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Naomi Osaka is winning kudos for on-court moves that have nothing to do with tennis. The player, who on Tuesday night made it through to the US Open semifinals, has taken to wearing masks that each bear the name of one victim of racial injustice—and USA Today reports she packed seven of them. She's been seen before her matches in black masks that have displayed the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Elijah McClain, and Ahmaud Arbery. In video messages aired by ESPN and shown to Osaka Tuesday, Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, and Marcus Arbery Sr., expressed their deep thanks. Osaka's immediate response: "I feel like I'm a vessel at this point in order to spread awareness."

The US Open shares video from a subsequent press conference in which Osaka is asked how those videos impacted her. Her reply: "I was just trying really hard not to cry. It's a bit surreal. It's extremely touching that they would feel touched by what I'm doing. For me, I feel like what I’ve been doing is nothing. It’s a speck of what I could be doing." NBC News reports it looks likely that she'll get the chance to wear all seven: She faces Jenny Brady in the semifinals before potentially moving to her second US Open final on Saturday. NBC quotes her as telling ESPN, "I just have a feeling" when it comes to which mask to wear. (It's not Osaka's only big move on this front as of late.)

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