6 Times Naomi Osaka Wore A Mask And Made A Political Statement

BET Awards 2021: Naomi Osaka Political Statement

6 Times Naomi Osaka Wore A Mask And Made A Political Statement

These powerful style moments from this year's BET Awards “Sportswoman Of The Year” nominee were a simple, and silent way to stand for justice.

Published 5 days ago

Written by BET Staff

Naomi Osaka has never been shy about making a statement in support of a good cause, especially as it relates to Black Lives Matter. In 2020, at the Women’s Single matches of the US Open in New York City, the star athlete was spotted wearing several statement-making masks in prevention of COVID-19 and those who died unjustly due to racial violence and police brutality. “I have seven [masks],” Osaka told Forbes in an on-court interview. “It’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names [of Black people killed by members of law enforcement], so hopefully, I’ll get to the finals and you can see all of them.”

RELATED | Naomi Osaka Is On A Mission To Pioneer For Change On And Off The Court

At the BET Awards, we commemorate those who make a stand for justice—especially when they do it creatively. Below, see the “Sportswoman Of The Year” nominee’s masks that supported the BLM movement. Keep scrolling to see the powerful moments from the tennis star.

  1. Philando Castile
    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 10: Naomi Osaka of Japan speaks after winning her Women's Singles semifinal match against Jennifer Brady of the United States on Day Eleven of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)

    Naomi honored Minnesota's, Philando Castile, at the US Open semifinal match against Jennifer Brady. Castile was fatally shot by police officer Jeronimo Yanez in front of his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter during a traffic stop. “For me, [it’s about] just spreading awareness,” Osaka said after the tournament. “I feel like the more people know the story, then the more interesting or interested they’ll become in it.”

  2. Ahmaud Arbery
    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 04: Naomi Osaka of Japan wears a protective face mask with the name, Ahmaud Arbery stenciled on it after winning her Women's Singles third round match against Marta Kostyuk of the Ukraine on Day Five of the 2020 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 04, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old African-American man, was pursued and fatally shot while jogging in Glynn County, Georgia. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)

    In the third round of the semifinals, Osaka showed honor to Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, who was jogging in Georgia when he was shot and killed by three white men who were charged with murder. After Osaka won the match against Shelby Rogers, Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., sent her a video message, “I just want to tell you thank you for the support of my family, and God bless you.”

  3. Trayvon Martin
    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 06: Naomi Osaka of Japan walks out wearing a mask with the name of Trayvon Martin printed on it before her Womenâ  s Singles fourth round match against Anett Kontaveit of Estonia on Day Seven of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 6, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

    Naomi Osaka also showed her support of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old from Florida who was shot and killed by the infamous George Zimmerman — who was later acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges in 2012. Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, also shared her appreciation to the tennis champ, “I just want to say thank you to Naomi Osaka for representing Trayvon Martin on your customized mask, and also for Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Continue to do well, continue to kick butt at the U.S. Open. Thank you.”

  4. George Floyd
    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 08: Naomi Osaka of Japan walks in wearing a mask with the name of George Floyd on it before her Womenâ  s Singles quarter-finals match against Shelby Rogers of the United States on Day Nine of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images )
    (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

    Naomi walked in strong and confident wearing a George Floyd mask as she entered the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Day 9 of the Women’s Singles quarter-finals match. Reigniting the BLM movement, the death of the 46-year-old Minneapolis man during the pandemic, was caused by a white officer, Derek Chauvin, who pinned him to the ground while kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes.

  5. Elijah McClain
    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 02: Naomi Osaka of Japan walks in wearing a mask with the name Elijah McClain on it before her Womenâ  s Singles second round match against  Camila Giorgi of Italy on Day Three of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 2, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. McClain died in a hospital after being placed in a carotid hold by police and injected with ketamine by paramedics in Aurora, Colorado on August 30, 2019. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

    Naomi brought further attention to the death of Elijah McClain, the Colorado man who was walking home from a convenience store when he was confronted by three police officers who held him in a carotid hold. He was administered ketamine by the paramedics, and three days later he was pronounced brain dead. "I still don't think his name is very put out there compared to George Floyd or Breonna Taylor. For me, today was very special in the way that I wanted to represent him very well," Osaka told CNN

  6. Breonna Taylor

    All eyes were on Naomi when she entered the arena wearing a Breonna Taylor face mask in recognition of the young EMT who was killed by three Louisville Metro Police Department plainclothes officers that entered her apartment under a “no-knock” warrant, with no arrests or charges yet to be brought against the perpetrators. “I’m aware that tennis is watched all over the world, and maybe there is someone that doesn’t know Breonna Taylor’s story,” Osaka told reporters yesterday, after the match via video conference.

  7. Tamir Rice
    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: Naomi Osaka of Japan walks on court in front of virtual fans before her Women's Singles final match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Day Thirteen of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 12, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)

    On the last day of the semifinals, Japan’s tennis ace wore a mask that adorned the name Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy who was killed by Cleveland, OH by police in 2014. "The point is to make people start talking," Osaka said at the awards ceremony. She's spoken volumes without uttering a word. 

    Watch the BET Awards 2021 on June 27 at 8/7C.

(Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)

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