Naomi Osaka agrees to play in Cincinnati semi-final, but insists ‘I was ready to concede the match’

WTA Tour
Naomi Osaka applauding

Naomi Osaka will take to the court for her Western & Southern Open semi-final on Friday after “lengthy consultation with the WTA and USTA”.

The two-time Grand Slam winner on Wednesday announced that she is taking a stand against racism, social injustice and police brutality following the shooting of Jacob Blake in the United States.

Blake, an unarmed black man, was shot in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as he leaned into his car, leading to widespread protests in America.

Shortly after beating Anett Kontaveit in the quarter-final, Osaka announced that won’t play her semi-final against Elise Mertens, saying a statement “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”.

The WTA, ATP and USTA then announced that there would be no play on Thursday as the sport is “collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice”.

Play paused at Cincy as ‘tennis is collectively taking a stand against racial inequality and social injustice’

On the back of discussions with the WTA and USTA, former world No 1 Osaka has decided to reverse her decision to pull out of the Cincinnati event.

“As you know, I pulled out of the tournament yesterday in support of racial injustice and continued police violence,” she said in a statement to The Guardian. “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.”

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