Naomi Osaka has rescinded her decision to pull out from the Cincinnati event and confirmed that she will play the semi-finals against Elise Mertens on Friday.
On Wednesday, Osaka had announced that she was withdrawing from the relocated Western & Southern Open in protest of police brutality.
On August 23, an African-American man Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin sparking another wave of protest in the USA. A lot of American league teams in basketball, baseball and soccer also refused to play and the matches have been postponed.
“I was (and am) ready and prepared to concede the match to my opponent,” Naomi Osaka said in a media statement.
“However, after my announcement and lengthy consultation with the WTA and USTA, I have agreed to play on Friday. They offered to postpone all matches until Friday and in my mind that brings more attention to the movement. I want to thank the WTA and the Tournament for their support.”
Following Osaka’s decision to withdraw on Wednesday, the WTA and ATP joined the protest and suspended Thursday’s play.
“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,” read a collective statement by the ATP, WTA and USTA.
A brave & impactful move by @naomiosaka, in support of the protest movement moving through the sports world.
She was to play in the semis tomorrow.
Athletes using platforms for good means so much.
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) August 27, 2020
— judy murray (@JudyMurray) August 27, 2020
The tennis community stood together behind the two-time Grand Slam champion, with people like Andy Murray, Judy Murray, Coco Gauff, Sloane Stephens and Billie Jean King endorsing Osaka’s stand on social media.
The Western & Southern Open will resume on Friday with the men’s and women’s semifinals. While Osaka takes on Merterns, Victoria Azarenka and Johanna Konta will contest the second semis.
In the men’s event, World No 1 Novak Djokovic will face Roberto Bautista Agut while Milos Raonic will take on Stefanos Tsitsipas.