Naomi Osaka Will Change Breonna Taylor Mask to Other Names Throughout U.S. Open

Naomi Osaka wore a mask bearing the name of Breonna Taylor before and after her first-round victory at the U.S. Open Monday—and she plans to wear one with a different name for each match.

"I have seven [masks]," the world tennis champion said in her post-match interview.

"It's quite sad that seven masks isn't enough for the amount of names, so hopefully I'll get to the finals and you can see all of them."

Osaka plans to honor the memory of others who have died to raise awareness about racial injustice and Black Lives Matter by wearing each mask during her stay in New York—seven masks for seven matches to win a Grand Slam trophy. The 22-year-old has been outspoken about social issues since the death of George Floyd in May.

"I'm aware that tennis is watched all over the world, and maybe there is someone that doesn't know Breonna Taylor's story. Maybe they'll, like, Google it or something," Osaka said. "For me, [it's about] just spreading awareness. I feel like the more people know the story, then the more interesting or interested they'll become in it."

Taylor, a 26-year-old who was fatally shot when police officers burst into her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment using a no-knock warrant in March.

"A lot of people ask me if I feel more stressed out ever since I started speaking out more. To be honest, not really," Osaka continued in her post-match interview. "At this point, like, if you don't like me, it is what it is. You know what I mean?"

Osaka's latest move in support of BLM comes after the world number one walked on the court for her semi-final Friday wearing a T-shirt with the movement written across the front.

The tennis superstar—who is the daughter of a Haitian father and a Japanese mother—decided to play in the tournament semi-final Friday after previously pulling out of the competition to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Last Wednesday, Osaka took to Twitter that she would not be playing because "there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis."

"Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman," Osaka wrote. "I don't expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction."

Osaka's move followed the lead of players in the NBA, WNBA, MLB, and MLS who have withdrawn from participating in their sports to also protest systemic police violence against Black Americans.

"Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach," Osaka wrote. "I'm exhausted of having a new hashtag pop up every few days and I'm extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again."

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka of Japan makes her way to the court for her semifinal match against Elise Mertens of Belgium during the Western & Southern Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 28, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images