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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday December 11, 2020

One of just five tennis players to win SI’s prestigious Sportsperson of the Year award, Naomi Osaka made her mark by making statements both on the court and off.

Tennis Express

In a recent interview with Vogue Magazine, the January covergirl talked more about taking a stand for social justice in 2020, as well as the benefits she gained from taking time away from the sport this season.

“As tennis players, we’re so hyper-focused on what happens on the court, and we think our life is sort of determined by whether we win a match or not,” she told Vogue. “That’s not true. I think that the pandemic gave me the chance to go into the real world and do things that I wouldn’t have done without it.”

Osaka identifies with being Japanese, Black and Haitian, but resists being labelled.

“I think I confuse people,” she says, “because some people label me, and they expect me to stick to that label. Since I represent Japan, some people just expect me to be quiet and maybe only speak about Japanese topics. I consider myself Japanese-Haitian-American. I always grew up with a little bit more Japanese heritage and culture, but I’m Black, and I live in America, and I personally didn’t think it was too far-fetched when I started talking about things that were happening here. There are things going on here that really scare me.”

During a chaotic year, Osaka found time to attend protests over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis as well as spearhead the tour’s day of shutdown at the Western and Southern Open in New York City.

A few weeks later she capped off her biggest achievement, winning the US Open and wearing a different mask with a the name of a different black American victim of violence.

“I was just thinking that I had this opportunity to raise awareness,” she explains. “Tennis is watched all around the world, so people who might not know these names can google them and learn their stories. That was a big motivator for me, and I think it helped me win the tournament.”