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Naomi Osaka wears mask bearing Trayvon Martin’s name at US Open, advances to quarterfinals

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Professional tennis player Naomi Osaka donned a mask bearing the name of Trayvon Martin ahead of her U.S. Open match against Anett Kontaveit on Sunday.

The recent round, which Osaka won, was the fourth in which she wore a mask bearing the name of a Black person whose death sparked nationwide outrage. Martin is the unarmed Black teenager who was killed by George Zimmerman in Florida in 2012.

Osaka has worn similar masks with the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain and Breonna Taylor at her past three rounds. She said earlier this month that she has seven masks in total for each of the rounds.

“So, I have seven and it’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names. So, hopefully I’ll get to the finals and you can see all of them,” she said at the time.

Late Sunday on Twitter, Osaka said she remembers “Trayvon’s death clearly.”

“I remember being a kid and just feeling scared. I know his death wasn’t the first but for me it was the one that opened my eyes to what was going on. To see the same things happening over and over still is sad. Things have to change,” she said.

Last month, Osaka also sat out of a semifinals match in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

“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,” Osaka said then.

“I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction,” she continued, while also calling out what she called the “continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police.”

“I’m exhausted of having a new hashtag pop up every few days and I’m extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again. When will it ever be enough?” she also said in a statement then.

At the time, she was one of a number of professional athletes across several other sports that decided to sit out a game to bring more awareness to Blake, a Black man whose family said he was partially paralyzed last month after being shot several times in the back at close range by police in Kenosha, Wis.

With her recent victory against Kontaveit, Osaka now heads to the quarterfinals. She is expected to play Shelby Rogers on Tuesday.


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