Naomi Osaka decides to play in Western and Southern Open after originally pulling out in protest at Jacob Blake shooting

JAPANESE tennis star Naomi Osaka has reversed her decision to withdraw from the Western and Southern Open tournament over Jacob Blake's shooting.

Unarmed Blake was shot seven times in the back by police on Sunday in Wisconsin, sparking a wave of Black Lives Matter protests – some violent – across the US.


Osaka said in a statement: “As you know, I pulled out of the tournament yesterday in support of racial injustice and continued police violence.

"I was (and am) ready and prepared to concede the match to my opponent.

“However, after my announcement and lengthy consultation with the WTA and USTA, I have agreed at their request to play on Friday.

"They offered to postpone all matches until Friday and in my mind that brings more attention to the movement. I want to thank the WTA and the Tournament for their support.”

Blake's children watched the tragedy unfold from the car with lawyers confirming it will take a "miracle" for Blake to walk again.

It comes three months after George Floyd was killed when an officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes.

Numerous sporting events have been postponed as athletes continue to take a stand against racial injustice.

Three NBA play-off games, three baseball matches and five MLS games have been postponed.

And Osaka, who was in the semi-finals of the WTA tournament, initially tweeted: "Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman.

"And as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.

"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.



"Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hands of people is honestly making me sick to my stomach.

"When will it ever be enough?"

Hours later the Western and Southern Open released a statement confirming the tournament had been suspended for Thursday.

It read: "As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States.

"The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognise this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27."

The event is a warm-up tournament ahead of the US Open that gets underway on Monday.

Osaka won the tournament in 2018 and was ranked No1 last year – becoming the first Asian player to hold the top rankings in singles.

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