Tennis star Naomi Osaka has had a successful year in sports and this week she received the honor of being named Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press.
Beyond winning her third Grand Slam title at the U.S.Open, Osaka has also used her platform for social activism, speaking out against police brutality in light of the racial injustice protests and murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery that received worldwide attention.
“Her activism has shone a light on how we as individuals and sports leagues can collectively make an impact,” said Women’s Tennis Association Chairman and CEO Steve Simon to Tennis.com. “Not only is she a phenomenal tennis player, but she also demonstrates how athletes have an opportunity to use their platform for something bigger than the game or themselves. Her actions are nothing short of inspiring and she is so very deserving of this recognition.”
Beyond the tennis court, Osaka has also managed to garner lucrative endorsements and deals with big names like Nike in addition to her own brand of sake.
“It was difficult to be isolated from my family for large parts of the year, but that’s nothing compared to others. It was sad to watch and read the news of people suffering from Covid-19, and the economic and social effect on so many — losing jobs, mental health,” said Osaka in a statement according to NBC News.
“It was such a tough year for so many people,” Osaka wrote in an email interview. “And then watching the police injustices like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake (to name just a few) in the summer broke my heart. I am proud of my U.S. Open victory, but more so that I got people talking about the real issues.”
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