Naomi Osaka to proceed with play in Western and Southern Open on Friday

Naomi Osaka said she will play her semifinal match at the Western and Southern Open, presently planned for Friday, after beforehand expressing her aim to decline to play.

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

The two-time major champion on Wednesday became the first tennis player to decline to play because of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Her next match had been scheduled for Thursday.

A few hours after Osaka’s declaration, the USTA, ATP and WTA tours reported that play would be delayed and would continue Friday as the game seemed to be “collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States.”

It was not quickly certain whether Osaka would choose to partake in the rescheduled match, however she said in her announcement Thursday that she would play against Elise Mertens in the semifinals subsequent to participating in discussions with the WTA and the USTA.

Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot seven times by police on Sunday as he endeavored to enter the driver’s side door of his vehicle with three of his children inside. Video of the shooting was dispersed via social media.

Osaka, who represents her native Japan, experienced childhood in the United States and is situated in Los Angeles. She is next scheduled to play in the US Open, which starts Monday. She won the competition in 2018.

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