October 1, 2020

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Naomi Osaka wins her second U.S. Open title with a powerful message

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Vanessa Pappas leads TikTok through its crisis, women in Japan say they haven’t seen the results of “womenomics,” and Naomi Osaka wins a U.S. Open title with a powerful message. Go get your Monday.

– Game, set, match. Naomi Osaka is a U.S. Open champion twice over. The 22-year-old tennis star defeated Belarusian player Victoria Azarenka on Saturday to win this year’s title.

Osaka’s first U.S. Open win was marked by its circumstances: her emotional 2018 match against Serena Williams, and questions about the referee’s treatment of Williams during play. This victory also comes with its own unique context—though this time shaped by events transpiring far beyond Arthur Ashe stadium.

Osaka, as we’ve followed throughout the Open, wore the names of Black people killed by police on her face masks throughout her seven matches, starting with Breonna Taylor and ending with Tamir Rice. The athlete, who has become one of the most vocal voices in sports for the Black Lives Matter movement, fought for victories on the court months after history-making nationwide protests and during a pandemic, without crowds in the stands to cheer her on. Still, she deftly turned attention back to the cause.

When asked, “What was the message you wanted to send?” Osaka responded, “What was the message that you got was more the question. I feel like the point is to make people start talking.” On Sunday, the U.S.-based star, who plays for Japan and is also of Haitian heritage, made another powerful statement as she showed gratitude for her win: “I would like to thank my ancestors,” she tweeted, “because every time I remember their blood runs through my veins I am reminded that I cannot lose.”

Osaka’s win also served as yet another reminder of the Williams’ sisters legacy, even as Serena Williams was knocked out in the tournament’s semifinal on Thursday. From the record 13 Black women who competed in this year’s event to the athletes “modeling their style of play on that of Serena and her sister Venus, dominating with grit and panache,” Williams’s impact on the sport—and on the next generation, like Osaka—is bigger than her own records.

And now, thanks not just to this title but to her powerful use of her own voice, Osaka’s own legacy is deservedly and decidedly bigger than the painful victory we watched two years ago.

Emma Hinchliffe


2020-09-14 08:41:59

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