‘Before I’m an athlete, I’m a black woman’: Tennis star Naomi Osaka pulls from US tournament in protest over Jacob Blake shooting

The former top-ranked women’s tennis player, Naomi Osaka, has said she is withdrawing from the Western & Southern Open ahead of the semifinals to trigger discussion about the “genocide of Black people at the hands of police.”

Osaka has announced her decision to not play in the semi-final match on Thursday, where she was scheduled to meet Elise Mertens of Belgium, in a post on Twitter.

The two-time Grand Slam champion Osaka, who has become the highest paid female athlete in history after racking up $37.4 million last year, primarily due to lucrative sponsorship deals, said that she does not expect “anything drastic to happen” with her not playing, but hopes to “get a conversation started in a majority white sport.”

Watching the continuing  genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach.

Osaka was born in Japan to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, but moved to the US when she was a toddler and has been living and training there since she was 3 years old. She rose to international stardom after beating veteran Serena Williams to win the 2018 US Open and went on to win the Australian Open the same year.

Osaka used to have dual Japan-US citizenship, but confirmed in an interview last year that she would be giving up her US passport in order to play on the Team Japan in the Tokyo Olympics.

The Japanese’s walkout follows the NBA putting all playoff matches scheduled for Wednesday on hold after the Milwaukee Bucks chose to boycott their bout with the Orlando Magic to protest the Blake shooting.