Naomi Osaka made the most of her time in the U.S. Open bubble, using her platform to spread awareness about Black people who have been killed by police and others.
Naomi Osaka brought seven face masks to the US Open.
Each mask highlights a different Black victim of racial injustice and police brutality.
– Breonna Taylor
– Elijah McClain
– Ahmaud Arbery
– Trayvon Martin
– George Floyd
– Philando Castile
Today: Tamir Rice
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) September 12, 2020
For all seven matches, she wore a different mask with a different name on the front, including Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice ahead of the final round against Victoria Azarenka reports BuzzFeed.
After winning the U.S. Open championship match for her third Grand Slam title on Saturday, the Haitian-Japanese tennis star was asked a question about the masks and gave an answer that was applauded by many according to HuffPost.
As she stood on the platform with her trophy, ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi asked her what message she wanted to send with the seven masks.
"Well, what was the message you got? [That] was more the question. I feel like the point is to make people start talking," she said.
When Rinaldi asked a follow up question about the impact of her masks, Osaka said, "I've been inside the bubble so I'm not really sure what's going on in the outside world. All I can tell is what's going on on social media, and for me I feel like the more retweets it gets…that's so lame, but you know, the more people talk about it."
“What was the message that you got was more the question. I feel like the point is to make people start talking."
Naomi Osaka explained why she wore seven facemasks to honor Black victims of racial injustice. pic.twitter.com/Vd0kqqmRP1
— ESPN (@espn) September 12, 2020
The 22-year-old has quickly cemented herself as one of the sport's biggest stars.
Osaka pulled off an astounding comeback to win the title, falling down early on before fighting her way to a win in the second and third sets. She became the first woman since 1994 to win a U.S. Open final after losing the first set, according to HuffPost.
After her quarterfinal win on Tuesday, ESPN played a video featuring Martin’s mom and Arbery’s dad, both of whom took time to thank Osaka for wearing the masks and highlighting their stories.
“I just want to say thank you to Naomi Osaka for representing Trayvon Martin on your customized mask, and also for Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. “Continue to do well, continue to kick butt at the US Open. Thank you,” Sabrina Fulton said in the video.
“Naomi, I just want to tell you thank you for the support of my family, and God bless you for what you’re doing and you supporting our family and my son. My family really, really appreciates that. God bless you,” Marcus Arbery Sr. said.
After the video's played, Osaka said the messages meant a lot to her and told broadcasters she considered herself a vessel to spread awareness.
"Hopefully, it’s not going to dull the pain, but hopefully I can help with anything that they need. For me, 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 doing is nothing. It's a speck of what I could be doing. It was really emotional. … I'm really grateful, and I'm really humbled," she said.