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Osaka pulls out of Western & Southern Open semis to protest racial injustice

NEW YORK, Sept. 3, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Naomi Osaka of Japan attends a press conference after the women's singles fourth round match between Naomi Osaka of Japan and Belinda Bencic of Switzerland at the 2019 US Open in New York, the United States, Sept. 2, 2019. (Xinhua/Li Muzi/IANS)

Rising tennis star Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from her semi-final clash at the Western & Southern Open to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake and other victims of police brutality.

No.4 seed Osaka on Wednesday defeated No.12 Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory to enter the semifinal where she was slated to face Elise Mertens on Thursday afternoon.

“Hello, as many of you are aware I was scheduled to play my semi-finals match tomorrow,” Osaka wrote in a statement on her social media accounts. “However, 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 hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach. I’m exhausted of having a new hashtag pop up every few days and I’m extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again. When will it ever be enough?” she added.

The National Basketball Association’s Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic also boycotted their playoff game on Wednesday afternoon following the shooting of Blake by police in Kenosha, near to Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, in a joint statement, the ATP, WTA and USTA acknowledged the day’s historic events and postponed all play at the tournament until Friday.

“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. Play will resume on Friday, August 28.”

However, it remains unclear if Osaka will still compete in the tournament, which was originally scheduled to conclude on Friday.

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