The parents of Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery appeared in a video to thank tennis superstar Naomi Osaka for wearing the masks during the U.S. Open displaying Black Lives Matter-oriented messages.
Through the competition, Osaka has worn black face masks with the names of people who have died because of police violence or racial profiling like Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.
On Tuesday (Sept. 8), Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, and Marcus Arbery Sr., Arbery’s father, were shown in brief videos, sharing their appreciation during Osaka’s press conference.
“We thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” said Fulton. “Continue to do well, continue to kick butt at the U.S. Open.” Arbery reflected the same sentiment. “I just want to tell you thank you for the support of my family and God bless you with what you’re doing.”
Osaka was emotional when she saw the video and offered her continued support.
“It means a lot,” Osaka said. “They’re so strong … I feel like I’m a vessel, at this point, in order to spread awareness. I don’t think it’s going to dull the pain, but hopefully, I can help with anything that they need.”
Osaka defeated Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday in the quarterfinal and will take on Jennifer Brady on Thursday (Sept. 10) in the semifinal at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City.
Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012 when George Zimmerman, a Sanford, Fla., volunteer neighborhood watchman followed him after suspecting him of theft and a fight ensued resulting in the 17-year-old sustaining fatal gunshot wounds. After a controversial high-profile trial, Zimmerman was acquitted.
Arbery, 25, was killed in February when two men, in Brunswick, Ga., father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael followed him, suspecting him of burglary. After a physical confrontation, the younger McMichael fired his rifle at Arbery, killing him. The two men and another individual, William Bryan are currently awaiting trial on felony murder charges.