Naomi Osaka continues to honor Black Americans who unjustly lost their lives to systemic racism.
Before her Round of 16 match at the U.S. Open on Sunday, the 22-year-old tennis champion — who was born in Japan to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother — entered Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York wearing a black face mask with Trayvon Martin's name.
In 2012, Martin, a 17-year-old Black teenager from Miami Gardens, Florida, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, who previously reported Trayvon to cops as a “suspicious guy” wearing “a dark hoodie.”
After defeating Estonia's Anett Kontaveit to advance to the quarterfinals, Osaka opened up about her tribute to Martin on Instagram.
“Actually I have a lot to say about this. I remember Trayvon’s death clearly. I remember being a kid and just feeling scared, irreverent info but I actually didn’t wear hoodies for years cause I wanted to decrease the odds of ‘looking suspicious,” she wrote.
While noting that Martin’s death “wasn’t the first,” Osaka said the tragic incident “opened my eyes to what was going on.”
“I remember watching the events unfold on tv and wondering what was taking so long, why was justice not being served,” she continued. “To see the same things happening over and over still is sad. Things have to change.”
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Actually I have a lot to say about this. I remember Trayvon’s death clearly. I remember being a kid and just feeling scared, irreverent info but I actually didn’t wear hoodies for years cause I wanted to decrease the odds of “looking suspicious”. I know his death wasn’t the first, but for me it was the one that opened my eyes to what was going on. I remember watching the events unfold on tv and wondering what was taking so long, why was justice not being served. To see the same things happening over and over still is sad. Things have to change.
Osaka previously made headlines on September 1 when she entered the arena wearing a mask honoring Breonna Taylor, an EMT who was fatally shot on March 13 in her Kentucky apartment by white police officers in plainclothes.
While speaking to reporters after her first win, the athlete said she has a mask for all seven rounds, should she advance in the competition.
"I actually have seven [masks], 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," Osaka said.
Following her tribute to Taylor, Osaka wore a facial covering honoring Elijah McClain in her second round, and one honoring Ahmaud Arbery during her third.
After her second-round victory, Osaka told reporters that she hopes to bring attention to police brutality and systemic racism on a worldwide level.
“I think tennis, people watch it all around the world and things that we think are common names are probably not common overseas,” she said. “For me I just want people to have more knowledge. I feel like the platform that I have right now is something that I used to take for granted and I just feel like I should be using it for something.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Osaka is scheduled to compete against the U.S.’s Shelby Rogers in the quarterfinals of the tournament.