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Naomi Osaka won her second U.S. Open title and the third major of her career, besting Belarusian tennis player Victoria Azarenka. As ESPN reported, Osaka, who represents Japan, visibly soaked in her win: “Naomi Osaka laid down in the middle of the court with her hands folded and stared at the sky…The smile had now faded from her face, and she was ready to fully take in the moment.”
“I was thinking about all the times I’ve watched the great players sort of collapse onto the ground and look up into the sky,” she told ESPN. “I’ve always wanted to see what they saw.”
Osaka has been working hard on the court during this abnormal U.S. Open. In the middle of a global pandemic, she’s been playing in a mostly empty Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, Queens. As is the norm these days, she played in face masks, but her masks made a statement: She wore the names of seven Black Americans who have been killed by police.
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She started the mask rotation on August 31 with a mask that featured Breonna Taylor’s name. “Actually, I have seven,” she told an ESPN reporter then. “It’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names. Hopefully, I’ll get to the finals and you can see all of them.”
And that’s exactly what happened. On Saturday, the day she took home her win, she wore a mask featuring the name of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old Cleveland boy who was shot and killed by a white police officer in 2014. In addition to Taylor and Rice, Osaka wore masks featuring Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile, Elijah McClain, and Ahmaud Arbery.
“The point is to make people start talking,” Osaka said at the award ceremony, per The New York Times.
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