- No.4 seed Naomi Osaka announced she would withdraw from her semi-final on Twitter, in wake of continuing protests of the shooting of Jacob Blake
- USTA, WTA and ATP released statement, suspending the tournament for a day with play to resume on Friday.
NEW YORK, USA – Naomi Osaka’s announcement that she would withdraw from her semi-final sees the sport unite in support against racial inequality and social injustice.
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During the ATP match between Milos Raonic and Filip Krajinovic, World No. 10 and two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka tweeted that she would withdraw from her planned semi-final on Thursday as protests continued in the USA over the shooting of Jacob Blake last weekend.
Mr Blake, who was black and unarmed, was shot by police on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He is recovering in hospital and his shooting sparked protests that have led to violence and unrest.
Protests have spread to a number of US cities, and over the course of this week the sporting world saw NBA, WNBA, MLS and MLB games called off.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) August 27, 2020
Osaka has a Haitian father and Japanese mother and has herself been the target of racism in Japan. Her stand was supported by the legendary Billie Jean King.
A brave & impactful move by @naomiosaka, in support of the protest movement moving through the sports world.
She was to play in the semis tomorrow.
Athletes using platforms for good means so much.
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) August 27, 2020
A couple of hours later, the USTA, WTA and ATP released a joint statement.
Statement on Pause of Play at the Western & Southern Open
As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States. The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognize this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27. Play will resume on Friday, August 28.
Raonic was asked about the withdrawal after fighting back to claim his spot in the semi-finals.
He told reporters: “I think real disruption [is] what makes change. I think a lot of real disruption is caused by affecting people in a monetary way, and that can force some kind of change.
“So I’m hoping with what the NBA does, and I’m hoping that we, at least on the men’s tour as well as the women’s, we band together and we show our support, because there [are] many people that are not being treated fairly are being disrespected, having to live in fear, a lot of things that I have never had to experience, you know.
“It’s very unfortunate, very sad. I’m hoping that there is a change, and I’m hoping that the actions that do take course over the next days, weeks, months, years — this isn’t going to change in a day, really, to create a change, a systematic change that creates an equal opportunity for everybody, especially in the free world.”
At the time of his press conference, the decision to suspend the tournament had not been announced.
It is unclear whether Osaka will take up her semi-final place on Friday when the tournament resumes on what was scheduled to be its last day ahead of the start of the US Open on Monday. The draws for the US Open were also scheduled for Thursday.
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