February 27, 2021

Osaka to play Western & Southern Open semi-final

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“After my announcement and lengthy consultation with the WTA and USTA, I have agreed to play on Friday.”

Last Updated: 27/08/20 6:15pm

Naomi Osaka will play in the Western & Southern Open semi-final on Friday Naomi Osaka will play in the Western & Southern Open semi-final on Friday

Naomi Osaka will play in the Western & Southern Open semi-final on Friday

Naomi Osaka has opted to play her re-arranged Western & Southern Open semi-final against Elise Mertens on Friday.

Osaka had withdrawn from the tournament in protest over the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin last week, but has reconsidered her decision after organisers suspended play for Thursday to show solidarity with athletes from other sports.

Three NBA play-off games, three Major League Baseball matches, three WNBA fixtures and five Major League Soccer games were postponed after player-led actions in response to the shooting of African-American Blake and the civil unrest that has followed.

The semi-finals will now be played on Friday, which is scheduled to be the final day of the event. The 22-year-old from Japan is scheduled to face Belgian ace Mertens in the last four.

“As you know, I pulled out of the tournament yesterday in support of racial injustice and continued police violence. I was (and am) ready and prepared to concede the match to my opponent,” Osaka said in a statement.

“However, after my announcement and lengthy consultation with the WTA and USTA, I have agreed at their request to play on Friday. They offered to postpone all matches until Friday and in my mind that brings more attention to the movement. I want to thank the WTA and the Tournament for their support.”

Osaka, the US Open champion in 2018, had previously written: “Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman. And as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.

“I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.

“Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hands of people is honestly making me sick to my stomach.”

In a joint statement, the USTA, ATP Tour and WTA said: “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 recognise this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27.”

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