Naomi Osaka is a US Open champion once again!
The 22-year-old tennis star, who came into the tournament ranked No. 9 in the world, defeated Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Saturday to take her second US Open title — after defeating Serena Williams in 2018 — and her third career Grand Slam.
Following the match, Osaka congratulated her opponent and then laid down in the middle of the court at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York — where a sparse, socially-distanced crowd was allowed to view the championship round — to soak in her victory.
Naomi Osaka soaking it all in after winning her second #USOpen title. pic.twitter.com/h2xbVe3u5J
Osaka’s boyfriend, rapper Cordae, was on hand to support her during the championship match, and was spotted celebrating in the stands after the tennis star’s winning match point.
[email protected] was hype when @naomiosaka captured her second #USOpen title 👏 pic.twitter.com/8eoLtsM9vQ
The tennis star — who grew up in the United States but plays professionally for her mother’s home country of Japan — has made headlines during the tournament, not just for her elite play, but also for her commitment to raising awareness for Black victims of police brutality and racial injustice.
Osaka brought seven face masks to the tournament to wear for her pre-game interviews — each with a different victim’s name. Leading up to the championship match, she honored Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice.
After her match with Shelby Rogers, which advanced her to the semifinals, Osaka was surprised with messages from both Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, and Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., after she wore the names of their sons on masks during prior matches.
“I just want to say thank you to Naomi Osaka for representing Trayvon Martin on your customized mask, and also for Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor,” Fulton told Osaka in a moving clip. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Continue to do well, continue to kick butt at the US Open.”
Arbery’s father said his family “really, really appreciated” the gesture. “Thank you for the support of my family and God bless you for what you’re doing and you’re supporting our family with my son,” he said.
I often wonder if what I’m doing is resonating and reaching as many people as I hope. That being said, I tried to hold it in on set but after watching these back I cried so much. The strength and the character both of these parents have is beyond me. Love you both, thank you ❤️ https://t.co/FSDLtWNJDr
Osaka told reporters that she was holding back tears, and later took to her Twitter page to share her emotional reaction to hearing from the victims’ families. “I often wonder if what I’m doing is resonating and reaching as many people as I hope,” she wrote. “That being said, I tried to hold it in on set but after watching these back I cried so much. The strength and the character both of these parents have is beyond me. Love you both, thank you.”
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