Having produced some of the best tennis of her young career on the court to seal her third grand slam title, off it Osaka also made a statement at this year’s tournament.
In each of her seven matches, she wore a face covering displaying the name of a different Black victim of alleged police or racist violence in the US — from Breonna Taylor in her first round-match against Misaki Doi to Tamir Rice in the final against Azarenka.
“I feel like the point is to make people start talking,” Osaka said.
She told reporters: “I’m aware that tennis is watched all over the world, and maybe there is someone that doesn’t know Breonna Taylor’s story. Maybe they’ll like Google it or something.
“For me, just spreading awareness. I feel like the more people know the story, then the more interesting or interested they’ll become in it.”
“No one can really paint the narrative that he was a bad guy because they had so many stories and so many warm-hearted things to say about him.”
The pair face murder charges, along with another man who filmed the incident. All three pleaded not guilty in July.
Osaka told reporters after the game that she had been “touched” by the response she had so far received for wearing the masks during her US Open campaign.
“I’m not sure what I would be able to do if I was in their position,” said Osaka, who displayed Martin’s name following her win against Anett Kontaveit.
“I feel like I’m a vessel at this point in order to spread awareness and it’s not going to dull the pain, but hopefully I can help with anything that they need.”
Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died in Minneapolis after an officer, who was called because a store owner believed Floyd had used a counterfeit bill to pay, pinned him to the ground by kneeling on his neck for several minutes.
Yanez was later found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter and also acquitted of two counts of intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers safety.
Castile’s death gained widespread attention after his girlfriend broadcast the shooting’s aftermath on Facebook Live.
Video footage showed Timothy Loehmann, who was then a trainee, arriving in a squad car that was driven by officer Frank Garmback. The car moved close to Rice and less than two seconds later, Loehmann shot the boy.
The two officers both said in written statements in 2015 they thought Rice was pulling out a real gun from his waistband. A grand jury declined to indict either of the officers.
In 2016, the city of Cleveland said it would pay $6 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed by Rice’s family.