Naomi Osaka has said that athletes could use the Black Lives Matter movement as a launchpad for more activism.

Speaking to the press at the US Open on Friday, Osaka explained the kind of reactions her masks – emblazoned with the names of Black Americans who were victims of racial injustice – were receiving.

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"I think the responses that meant the most to me are probably people saying thank you," said Osaka.

"It always takes me by surprise because I don't know if I feel like I'm doing anything. But people say thank you and I'm proud of you, and for me that's something that's really touching to my heart."

Osaka has worn masks bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and Ahmaud Arbery onto court for her three matches at the US Open so far to highlight racial injustice in the United States to a wider audience.

The world number 10 believes that the Black Lives Matter campaign could be expanded to other subjects.

"I feel like definitely that would be the end goal, because tennis is an international event. It's played by so many people around the world," she said.

"I feel like there is always a very good opportunity to speak out about subjects. But, yeah, I feel like as soon as one player starts talking about it, then it kind of opens the door for everyone else."


First round - Breonna Taylor

Taylor, 26, was shot dead by police in her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky on March 13.

One police officer involved was fired by the city's police department in June. Two other officers have been placed on administrative reassignment. No criminal charges have been filed against any of the three.

Second round - Elijah McClain

McClain, 23, died after a violent encounter with police officers in Aurora, Colorado in August last year.

His family filed a lawsuit against the city and its police last month, alleging murder and routine use of excessive force against Black people.

Naomi Osaka of Japan wears a mask with the name Elijah McClain on it

Image credit: Getty Images

Third round - Ahmaud Arbery

Arbery, 25, was fatally shot after being pursued by armed white men as he jogged through a suburban neighborhood in Georgia in February.

Three white men have been charged with the murder of Arbery in a case that spurred a national outcry after cellphone video of the shooting was leaked on the internet.

With additional reporting from Reuters

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