Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY
Published 7:20 p.m. ET Sept. 12, 2020
Tennis legend Billie Jean King uses her fame to champion women on and off the court, and fight for equal pay, LGBTQ rights, and racial justice.
On her way to her second U.S. Open title, Naomi Osaka returned serve after serve.
She saved her best rebuttal for after Saturday’s 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory against Victoria Azarenka in the final.
Before each of her seven matches during the tournament, Osaka wore a mask bearing the name of Black victims of racial violence and profiling. ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi asked her after the match about the message behind the gesture.
“Well, what was the message that you got? (That) was more of the question,” Osaka replied. “I feel like the point is to make people start talking.
“I’ve been inside of the bubble so I’m not really sure what’s really going on in the outside world. All I can tell what’s going on is on social media. For me, I feel like the more retweets it gets — that’s so lame — the more people talk about it.”
Naomi Osaka replies to Tom Rinaldi’s question about the message behind wearing masks with names of Black people killed on them: “Well, what was the message that you got? … I feel like the point is to make people start talking.” pic.twitter.com/SBWGaDJqaJ
— Chris Bumbaca (@BOOMbaca) September 12, 2020
The names on Osaka’s masks were: Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery and Tamir Rice, whose mask she wore Saturday.
Martin’s mother and Arbery’s father both thanked her for wearing the masks.
“I feel like they’re so strong. I’m not sure what I would be able to do if I was in their position,” Osaka said earlier this week. “I feel like I’m a vessel at this point in order to spread awareness. It’s not going to dull the pain, but hopefully I can help with anything that they need.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.