Is this the first time in tennis history that a player has pulled out of a tournament only to change their mind and continue to compete? Well, the strange 2020 season is bringing that to the table as well. After announcing that she refuses to play her Western & Southern Open semifinal as a way to draw attention to racial injustice, Naomi Osaka states that she will play her match against Elise Mertens on Friday.
So what happened? Some people are saying that media, myself included, misinterpreted Osaka’s initial statement, as she supposedly didn’t say that she was pulling out of the tournament, rather she only said that she was not playing her semifinal on the initially-scheduled Thursday. Since the tournament itself made a decision to take a stance against racial inequality by suspending play on Thursday, the WTA semifinals have been moved to Friday and Osaka is OK with playing on Friday.
As a reminder, here’s Osaka’s statement released shortly after she beat Anett Kontaveit to reach the semis:
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.
Personally, I still don’t think that I misinterpreted Osaka’s statement, even though it is true that she never mentioned the word “withdraw”. What I think happened is that the two-time Grand Slam champion has been persuaded to show up in the semis, as The Guardian reports:
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.
What do you think about all this mess? Do you remember anything similar happening ever? (photo: Jimmie48)