Naomi Osaka will not play in W&S semi in protest against Jacob Blake shooting; tour breaks play

Naomi Osaka, the two-time grand tennis champion, announced she would not play in Thursday’s West and South Open game in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. Several hours later, the tournament announced that play had paused for a day.

“As a sport, tennis collectively takes a stand against racial inequality and social injustice that has been pushed forward again in the United States,” a statement from the USTA, ATP and WTA said. “The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognize this moment in time by stopping play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27. Play will resume on Friday, August 28.”

Osaka had made its announcement on social media, saying there are more important issues that need attention.

“Before I became an athlete, I was a black woman,” she wrote in a post Wednesday night. “And as a black woman, I feel that there are much more important issues at hand that need immediate attention, instead of me playing tennis. I do not expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but when I started a conversation in a majority white sport I considered that a step in the right direction. “

Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot seven times Sunday by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake was shot as he tried to enter the side door of the driver of his car with three of his children inside. Video of the shooting was circulated on social media.

“Looking at the ongoing genocide of Black people at the hands of the police makes me honestly sick to my stomach,” she wrote in the post. “I’m tired of showing a new hashtag every few days and I’m very tired of having the same conversation over and over again. When will it ever be enough?”

Several of her peers, including Sloane Stephens and Coco Gauff, responded to her post with praise.

Osaka, who represents Japan but grew up in the United States and is based in Los Angeles, would play Elise Mertens in a semifinal match after defeating Anett Kontaveit in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. She is scheduled to play in the U.S. Open, which begins Monday.