Naomi Osaka has confirmed she will take the court on Friday to play her scheduled semifinal against Elise Mertens at the Western & Southern Open.
After coming through a dramatic finish in her 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 quarterfinal win over Anett Kontaveit, Osaka posted a statement to her social media accounts on Wednesday night describing her decision to join in the athlete-led protests regarding racial injustice in America and not take the court on Thursday for her scheduled semifinal.
"[B]efore I am a athlete, I am a black woman,” Osaka wrote. “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.”
In a joint statement, the WTA, ATP Tour, and USTA, announced a pause in play on Thursday, with play to resume on Friday.
"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 joint statement read.
“The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognize this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27. Play will resume on Friday, August 28.”
In light of the tour's decision to pause play, Osaka confirmed on Thursday morning that she will take the court on Friday.
“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,” Osaka said in a statement first provided to Tumaini Carayol at The Guardian.
“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.”