How Naomi Osaka became the inappropriate, unavoidable voice of our moment. Naomi Osaka

When it comes to sporting events that make a fashion statement, the US Open gives its players a long runway to rival what you’ll find at New York Fashion Week or even La Guardia International.

This year, however, another acid-drip experiment instead of Serena Williams in a catsuit or that funhouse Bethany Mattek-Sands calls a closet, it was 22-year-old Naomi Osaka to take on the nearly empty Arthur Fahey Stadium at Facemask. having had. The names of Trywon Martin, Ahmoud Arbe, and other black Americans who were killed by police at the hands, knees, and bullets. It was the fourth-seeded Osaka kick-off against Japanese Misaki Doi in her first-round match under the name of the victim victim Bryo Taylor because “she was the most important”. And it was closing in on Osaka on Saturday afternoon with Tamir Rice, winning 1–1, 6–3, 6–3, 6–3, 6–3. Two-time slam champion Osaka was fielded a few weeks ago to face him in the finals of the Western and Southern Open until a hamstring injury forced a final-time comeback. As the prevailing sentiment goes, no one is more perfect for a world with white supremacy than the declarations of the twin epidemics of Coronavirus and the veil of Osaka. And yet the idea that such an adventure could come from the ninth-ranked player in the world is surprising to say the least.

Remember: This is the same soft-spoken woman who steals hearts from her aggressive ground game and holds Stamina for a long game like the second level breaker in Saturday’s match with her painful shame during the 2018 season from her beating Was started All comers from Indian Wells for the first title of their young WTA career. A hot center court came in front of Mike for the post-traditional match ceremony, bowing in front of the crowd for all the tournament for the first time, snorting through his confession and almost skipping over rival Daria Kasatkina before exiting, finally. , “It” would probably be the worst acceptance speech ever. What’s more, Osaka later admitted, he had prepared the comment. It’s just that when he called her by the name of PA, it’s okay, like T’Challa, he froze.

She was more than a loss for words after appearing in her first US Open final five months later, although this time she was hardly alone. Remember: It was a near flawless victory that saw the testy exchange between Williams and Flinty Chair umpire Carlos Ramos – a moment that would remain in infamy forever, like Novak Djokovic’s line judge-pegged default. As it rained down from the ash stand during the subsequent coronation of that match, the weeping Osaka put his face on his face, throwing Williams a helping hand around him and whispering a few words of encouragement. Even more embarrassing than this disgusting moment was that it maligned a newspaper in Australia’s Herald Sun portraying brown-skinned Osaka as a fat white woman and Williams as a fat-draped, abusive mummy Was a cartoon.

Naomi Osaka entered the courtroom wearing a mask with Tamir Rice’s name before the US Open final on Saturday afternoon in New York. Photo: Danielle Parzikaran / USA Today Sports

It wasn’t until Osaka supported that major championship at the 2019 Australian Open with no other and became the first woman after Jennifer Capriati to win her first two slams in two consecutive attempts that we would see a change in tone . When she became the first Asian woman to become No. 1 in Miami, Wimbledon and Roland Garros to pull out of draws, Osaka finally raised her voice. In a surprise move, he fired the architect of his tour’s success, former Williams hitting fellow coach Coach Sachin Baji. A year later she read the comments made to CNN Sport, you would think she would have done it sooner, if only she had the nerve. “I regret a lot before going to sleep,” she said, “and the most regret is that I don’t say what I’m thinking.”

Osaka was among the first American athletes as well as prominent athletes to register support for the Black Lives Matter movement, when demonstrations against anti-black racism and extrajudicial police killings in the wake of Black Floyd’s illegal inadvertence. Gough, with whom top-seeded Osaka hugged the spotlight and memorably following the third-round rout, turned Kali Kishore Rani into tears. Addressing Goff’s parents in their on-court interview, wiping tears, Osaka told them, “You guys made a wonderful player. For me, the fact that we both made it unbelievable. “

Osaka encouraged the people of Japan to join protest marches in Osaka City, where he lived until he was three years old, before moving to South Florida and going for training. During all the time, Osaka hit back any followers who might not cling to the game. Not surprisingly, much of that opposition came from his country of birth, where Osaka is rarely accepted because he is Hafu – Daughter of a Japanese woman and a Haitian man. And while it technically means she is mixed breed, recently a pair of Japanese comedians were jokingly told that she was “scorched in too much sun” and “needed some bleach” or here Even the blinking line of questioning the Osi tennis stalwart about Osaka’s face replaced ESPN analyst Renayne. Stubbs was reminding that Osaka, before any nationality, was a black woman. This was evident in the way he was set smiling during a post-match interview at the grounds of ESPN’s Ash Stadium after watching videos from Trywon Martin’s mother and Ahmad Arbe’s father supporting him Had done. “They are very strong,” she said. “I am not sure what I would have done if I had been in their position.” I feel that I am a vessel at this point to spread awareness. It is not going to ease the pain, but hopefully I can help with anything they need. “

When the Milwaukee Bucks departed before a playoff game against the Orlando Magic and began a two-day game blackout, Osaka helped to make a performance stick by boycotting their semifinal matches at the Western and Southern Open, effectively making that haste. Grinding together to stop the tournament. Such big gestures used to be the area of ​​the Williams sisters, leaders on everything from diversity and women’s visits to paying equity to Arab-Israeli relations during their decades-long reign. And yet at a Western and Southern Open, which Kovid transferred to the grounds of the American Open, named after three of the greatest cultural activists in American history, someone worked hard to imagine Venus or Serena. Will, who was winning politically in a tournament. The reason – not for lack of faith, but for hell they will hold. For years, Serena boycotted Indian Wells because of the “undercurrent of racism” her family felt in 2001 and had nothing to do with grief for the decision until she returned to the draw in 2015, but loved the attention Keeping, and a new understanding of true meaning of forgiveness. “

Thanks to her and Venus’ mark-blazing efforts, Osaka is not required to apologize for anything or respond to anyone for her activism. She can serve with the confidence that she was not killing anyone, taking her place in the Ash Center Court and the intent of her masked messages with the question of Tom Rinaldi’s lame post-match “What message was that you found it? ”, A $ 3m check before accepting an extra-large silver chalice and, on Monday, comes third overall on the WTA Tour rankings. She can explore the whole world like a warrior, which can never freeze in a moment.