22-year-old Japanese tennis champ Naomi Osaka has lifted her third Grand Slam title and her second US Open title in an inspiring triumph against Victoria Azarenka in a 1-6 6-3 6-3 victory on Saturday.
Proudly the highest-earning female athlete in the world, Osaka, a vocal advocate for Black Lives Matter protest donned on different masks during the US Open this year bearing the names of police brutality and #racialinequality , this time at the final, Tamir Rice – a 12 year old boy fatally shot by officer Timothy Loehmann in Cleveland, Ohio in 2014.
“Everything I was doing off the court, was sort of on the court, too,” Naomi Osaka said in a chat at ESPN studio
“I’m walking on the court in that moment,” she said of wearing the masks. “It made me stronger, because I had more desire to win, because I want to show more names, and I want people to talk about it more.”
“I wanted more people to say more names,” she said.
Asked at the presentation ceremony what message she had hoped to send, Osaka replied sharply: “Well what was the message that you got? I feel like the point is to make people start talking.”
On how she manages to cool off with all the pressure:
“When I think about winning too much, I go out of myself,” Osaka said. “For me, the key is to stay calm.”
“The quarantine definitely gave me a chance to think a lot about things, what I want to accomplish, what I want people to remember me by,” she said. “For me, I came into this tournament, or these two tournaments, with that mindset. I think it definitely helped me out.”