Naomi Osaka knows a commercial can’t end racism, but it’s a hell of a megaphone

When Naomi Osaka first walked onto the court at the 2020 U.S. Open, in a match against Misaki Doi, she wore a mask with Breonna Taylor’s name on it in order to use one of the biggest events in tennis as a platform to raise more awareness for victims of police violence.

It was just one of seven masks the 22-year-old told ESPN she owns, each emblazoned with a different name, commemorating another victim.

“It’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names, so hopefully I’ll get to the finals and you can see all of them,” she said.

Osaka knows the size and scale of both her audience, and the broader fanbase for a Grand Slam like the U.S. Open. So she also decided to use her commercial time with sponsor Hyperice, which is running ads on ESPN during the tournament, to speak out further about racial inequality.


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