Naomi Osaka, the winner of the 2020 US Open whose name has been across the news over the past week, has been an inspiration to many.
“You just got to keep going and fighting for everything, and one day you’ll get to where you want,” said Osaka.
Osaka is an inspiration to girls both young and old, especially to those who love the game of tennis. At 22, she continues to show girls that dreams can come true even at a young age.
Maya Solomon, a sophomore sociology major, has played tennis for 15 years starting at the age of four and has always loved the game.
“I think more girls will be inspired to play tennis and fight against racial injustice,” Solomon said.
Osaka played seven matches and wore seven different masks with the names of those heavily discussed in the recent Black Lives Matter movement. The names she proudly wore each day were Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice.
Whitney Brown, a sophomore pre-nursing student, has never played sports but shares her thoughts on Osaka’s masks.
“I think it’s inspiring to see someone in her position as an athlete using their platform to speak up about things that are directly affecting our community,” Brown said.
Osaka is Haitian and Japanese and proudly embraces her culture while using her platform to stand up and speak out about what she believes in.
Twitter user @etanthomas36 tweeted “Naomi Osaka is everything many of us were hoping Tiger Woods would be. Proud of her full heritage, but fully embracing her Blackness.”
Osaka will be an inspiration to many for years to come just like fellow tennis players Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and James Blake.
Even Michelle Obama has acknowledged the young winner in a tweet congratulating Osaka.
As a college athlete, sophomore Iman Baker had some thoughts about what Osaka’s win and masks statement meant for her.
“It’s very brave of her to do this and it shows me as a college athlete it’s okay to speak up and not be afraid to speak about social issues, fearing lack of support by the public.”
Baker believes that many athletes haven’t always used their platform to speak up on social issues. However, athletes in almost every sport are making their voices heard in 2020, marking a year full of change.