Naomi Osaka is doing great things on and off the court. The 22-year-old won her 2nd US Open title and her 3rd Grand Slam on Sunday, coming back from a set down to beat former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.
The highest-earning female athlete is making sure she uses all the spotlight that she is getting to support the fight against racial injustice. Naomi Osaka wore 7 different masks – one each with a name of a Black American for each of her matches at US Open 2020.
Noami Osaka said the gesture urged her to go the distance at the US Open so that she could showcase more masks to the wider audience.
For the final, Osaka’s mask bore the name of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black child who was holding a toy gun when a police officer shot and killed him in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2014.
And Naomi Osaka sees legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash earlier this year, as her idol when it comes to inspiring fellow beings. The newly-crowned US Open champion said she wants to achieve what Kobe Bryant thought she would. Notably, Osaka was seen sporting Kobe Bryant’s Lakers shirts throughout the campaign at the Flushing Meadows.
“For me, I feel like, at this point, there are certain things I do that I hope can make him proud. It’s like keeping his legacy alive. It’s amazing how one person can inspire so many people. Everybody has nice things to say about him,” Osaka told the press after Sunday”s win at the Flushing Meadows.
“I just want to be the type of person that he thought I was going to be. He thought I was going to be great, so hopefully I will be great in the future. Only time will tell.”
Naomi Osaka said she would be open to meeting the families of the 7 people who appeared on her masks during US Open 2020.
“I feel like I learn more through experiences. Everyone sort of thinks they know but I actually don’t want to know how they feel or how they felt during the process. For me, sharing stories and hearing people’s experiences is very valuable,” Osaka said.
Osaka said the lessons she had learnt during the quarantine in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic helped her mature as a person and focus on things which she wouldn’t have during a busy season of tennis.
“For me, my life was always go tennis-wise, especially after the previous US Open that I won. It definitely accelerated things, and I’ve never had a chance to slow down,” Osaka said while talking about the disrupted season.
“I feel like I’ve definitely tried to mature. I wasn’t really sure the process that I was going to have to take. But I feel like the lessons that I learned with life definitely developed me as a person more.”