In posts on Instagram and Twitter, Osaka said she was opting out of the match to protest the August 23rd shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old who was left paralyzed from the waist down after police shot him multiple times in front of his young children in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “Before I am an athlete, I am a Black woman," she explained in the post. "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.
In a July 2020 op-ed for Esquire, Osaka wrote that she took part in protests and signed petitions after the death of George Floyd, and called for systemic change and a cultural commitment to anti-racism. “It means so much to me that society evolves–that we take on systemic racism head-on, that the police protect us and don’t kill us," she wrote. "But I am proud, too, of the small part I have played in changing perceptions and opinions.
Naomi Osaka, a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, is one of many high-profile athletes and celebrities who have called public attention to recent deaths and shootings of Black people at the hands of police officers.