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US Open: Naomi Osaka wears face mask in memory of Trayvon Martin

Naomi Osaka donned the latest in a series of statement-making face masks on Sunday, wearing a covering that paid tribute to slain 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The 22-year-old tennis star has been using her masks for activism during the US Open, sporting custom pieces that bare the names of black men and women who have been killed by police or in other racist attacks.

On September 6, she entered the court at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Cente for her face-off against Anett Kontaveit of Estonia — whom she defeated 6–3 — while wearing a colorful Nike ensemble and a black mask featuring Trayvon’s name in all caps.

Making a statement: Naomi Osaka wore a 'Trayvon Martin' face mask to the US Open on September 6

Making a statement: Naomi Osaka wore a ‘Trayvon Martin’ face mask to the US Open on September 6

The 22-year-old tennis star said: 'I remember Trayvon’s death clearly. I remember being a kid and just feeling scared'

The 22-year-old tennis star said: ‘I remember Trayvon’s death clearly. I remember being a kid and just feeling scared’

'I actually didn’t wear hoodies for years cause I wanted to decrease the odds of “looking suspicious,"' she added

‘I actually didn’t wear hoodies for years cause I wanted to decrease the odds of “looking suspicious,”‘ she added

Platform: She has been using her masks for activism during the US Open, sporting pieces with the names of black men and women who have been killed by police or in other racist attacks

Platform: She has been using her masks for activism during the US Open, sporting pieces with the names of black men and women who have been killed by police or in other racist attacks 

Tragic: Trayvon, a 17-year-old high school student, was shot and killed by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman while walking home in Florida in 2012

Tragic: Trayvon, a 17-year-old high school student, was shot and killed by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman while walking home in Florida in 2012

While Naomi has been sticking to colorful Nike outfits for the duration of the tournament, she has been changing up her face masks for each match.

On Sunday, she wore a mask to honor Trayvon, a 17-year-old high school student was shot and killed by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman while walking home in Florida in 2012.

'I know his death wasn’t the first, but for me it was the one that opened my eyes to what was going on,' she said

‘I know his death wasn’t the first, but for me it was the one that opened my eyes to what was going on,’ she said

Though Trayvon was unarmed and ran away from Zimmerman, who was following him, Zimmerman was acquitted of murder charges on grounds of self defense.

‘I remember Trayvon’s death clearly,’ Naomi wrote on Instagram on Monday following the match. ‘I remember being a kid and just feeling scared. 

‘I actually didn’t wear hoodies for years cause I wanted to decrease the odds of “looking suspicious.” 

‘I know his death wasn’t the first, but for me it was the one that opened my eyes to what was going on.  

‘I remember watching the events unfold on tv and wondering what was taking so long, why was justice not being served,’ she went on. ‘To see the same things happening over and over still is sad. Things have to change.’  

Highligtht: On September 4, Naomi wore a mask featuring the name Ahmaud Arbery for her Women's Singles third round match against Marta Kostyuk of the Ukraine

Highligtht: On September 4, Naomi wore a mask featuring the name Ahmaud Arbery for her Women’s Singles third round match against Marta Kostyuk of the Ukraine

'I would like everyone to know that it was completely avoidable — this did not have to happen,' she said

‘I would like everyone to know that it was completely avoidable — this did not have to happen,’ she said

Naomi’s ‘Trayvon’ mask was her fourth paying tribute to slain black men and women, and she has three more planned for a total of seven masks.

‘So, I have seven and it’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names. So, hopefully I’ll get to the finals and you can see all of them,’ she said last week.

Her coach, Belgian Fissette, said Naomi’s activism is helping her name. 

Murdered: Ahmaud, 25, was shot and killed by three men who follow him while he was jogging in Georgia

Murdered: Ahmaud, 25, was shot and killed by three men who follow him while he was jogging in Georgia 

‘It’s definitely helping her and giving her even more energy,’ Fissette told reporters. ‘She always has the motivation. Of course she wants to go really far in this Grand Slam, and obviously she wants to win it. But this is like an extra motivation.

‘It’s a very important topic for her. She did unbelievable big thing during the Cincinnati tournament. We support her there because we know how important it is.’

On September 4, Naomi wore a mask featuring the name Ahmaud Arbery for her Women’s Singles third round match against Marta Kostyuk of the Ukraine.

Ahmaud, 25, was shot and killed while jogging in Georgia. He had been followed by Travis McMichael, Travis’ father Gregory, and William Bryan, who pursued him in two vehicles.

The McMichaels have been charged with felony murder, aggravated assault, and other crimes and are awaiting trial.

‘I would like everyone to know that it was completely avoidable — this did not have to happen,’ she said of Arbery’s death. ‘None of these deaths had to happen. I just want everyone to know the names.’ 

Spotlight: On September 2, it was Elijah McClain in the spotlight, as Naomi wore a mask with his name for her match against Camila Giorgi of Italy

Spotlight: On September 2, it was Elijah McClain in the spotlight, as Naomi wore a mask with his name for her match against Camila Giorgi of Italy 

'No one can really paint the narrative that he was a bad guy because they had so many stories and so many warmhearted things to say about him,' Naomi said

‘No one can really paint the narrative that he was a bad guy because they had so many stories and so many warmhearted things to say about him,’ Naomi said

On September 2, it was Elijah McClain in the spotlight, as Naomi wore a mask with his name for her match against Camila Giorgi of Italy.

Elijah, 23, died after being stopped on the street and put into a chokehold in the Denver suburb of Aurora on August 24, 2019.  He was walking alone along a street after buying iced tea from a convenience store when he was stopped by three white officers.

Elijah McClain, 23, died after being stopped on the street and put into a chokehold in the Denver suburb of Aurora on August 24, 2019

Elijah McClain, 23, died after being stopped on the street and put into a chokehold in the Denver suburb of Aurora on August 24, 2019 

The officers said they were responding to a call about a suspicious person wearing a ski mask and waving his arms.  

The 911 caller had told the dispatcher that the man, identified as McClain, ‘might be a good person or a bad person’ and noted that he didn’t have any weapons on him.  

When he was approached by the officers, McClain insisted he had done nothing wrong and kept walking. Bodycam footage shows McClain being tackled to the ground and put in a chokehold by the officers.

Paramedics later injected him with 500mg of the sedative ketamine to calm him down. During the confrontation, McClain said he could not breathe before vomiting repeatedly, fainting and then going into cardiac arrest. 

He was later declared brain dead and taken off life support several days later. 

‘I still don’t think his name is very put out there compared to George Floyd or Breonna Taylor,’ Naomi said, according to CNN. ‘For me, today was very special in the way that I wanted to represent him very well.  

‘I think when I heard about his story, it was very hurtful,’ she went on. ‘No one can really paint the narrative that he was a bad guy because they had so many stories and so many warmhearted things to say about him.’ 

Solidarity: Naomi's first mask in the series, which she wore for her match against Misaki Doi of Japan on August 31, paid homage to Breonna Taylor

Solidarity: Naomi’s first mask in the series, which she wore for her match against Misaki Doi of Japan on August 31, paid homage to Breonna Taylor 

Naomi said: 'I’m aware that tennis is watched all over the world, and maybe there is someone that doesn’t know Breonna Taylor’s story'

Naomi said: ‘I’m aware that tennis is watched all over the world, and maybe there is someone that doesn’t know Breonna Taylor’s story’

Naomi’s first mask in the series, which she wore for her match against Misaki Doi of Japan on August 31, paid homage to Breonna Taylor.

Breonna was shot and killed by police officers who entered her Louisville home on a no-knock warrant in the middle of the night while she and her boyfriend were sleeping.    

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire, believing robbers had broken in, before the cops responded by firing more than 20 rounds of their own.     

Naomi said: ‘I’m aware that tennis is watched all over the world, and maybe there is someone that doesn’t know Breonna Taylor’s story. 

‘Maybe they’ll, like, Google it or something. For me, [it’s about] just spreading awareness. I feel like the more people know the story, then the more interesting or interested they’ll become in it.’ 

Horrifying: Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot eight times while sleeping in her bed with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker when three plain clothes officers performed a no-knock arrest warrant at her Louisville apartment on March 13

Horrifying: Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot eight times while sleeping in her bed with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker when three plain clothes officers performed a no-knock arrest warrant at her Louisville apartment on March 13 








Taking a stand: In August, Naomi sat out of a semifinals match in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake. She released this satement

Taking a stand: In August, Naomi sat out of a semifinals match in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake. She released this satement

In August, Naomi sat out of a semifinals match in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake.

‘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,’ she wrote on Twitter.

‘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?’ 



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