Naomi Osaka has been included on TIME Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2020.
The 22-year-old won her third Grand Slam title at the US Open while also drawing attention to issues of racial injustice in America.
She planned to boycott her Western & Southern Open semi-final following the shooting of black man Jacob Blake before wearing face masks before her seven US Open matches bearing the names of black victims of police violence.
Writing for TIME, Olympic basketball champion Maya Moore praised Osaka for her “incredible focus, courage and intentionality to carry herself the way she did”.
“Watching Naomi Osaka play the US Open, I was inspired by how beautifully she wove her dominant athletic performance into another narrative.
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“Believe me: it wasn’t easy. It took incredible focus, courage and intentionality to carry herself the way she did. To use her gifts and talents, her voice and her platform, to honour the preciousness of black and brown lives.
“It took humility and grace to point beyond what she was doing, winning on one of the biggest stages in her craft, at something more important.
“She reminded us that we can all resist the excuses that guard us from giving love. Whatever power we have, the most lasting and life - giving way we can steward that power is by using it to lift others up. Especially those who aren’t exactly like us. Because we need each other.
“We need the fullness of humanity. Sports can uniquely beckon this truth. If somebody like Naomi can have the courage to use what she has to call people higher, then we can too.”
Osaka will not compete at the French Open due to injury.