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Tennis star Naomi Osaka joins athletes boycotting play to protest racial injustice

Naomi Osaka (Photo credit: Shutterstock.com/ Leonard Zhukovsky)

Tennis star Naomi Osaka is the latest athlete refuse to play in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, who was shot multiple times by a White police officer on Aug. 23 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in front of his children.

Blake’s shooting, which left him paralyzed from the waist down, has outraged many across the country, and athletes are now stepping up and using their platforms to speak out about racial injustice and police brutality.

Osaka, who has two Grand Slam titles, announced that she would not play in the semifinals of the 2020 Southern & Western Open tennis tournament on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020.

She revealed the news on Twitter, joining several fellow athletes in the NBA, WNBA, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer who also boycotted their respective games.

In a lengthy post written in English and Japanese, Osaka, who is ranked No. 1o in the Women’s Tennis Association, addressed why she decided to pause play and speak out.

“Before I am an athlete, I am a Black woman. 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,” she wrote.

The Milwaukee Bucks staged a walkout at Wednesday night’s playoff game against the Orlando Magic. The Bucks’ boycott prompted the NBA to postpone two other playoff games that night and caused a ripple effect throughout professional sports with an overwhelming number of professional athletes taking a stand and refusing to play in their respective sports.