World No.2 Naomi Osaka has pledged her prize money from the Western & Southern Open to relief efforts in Haiti after the country was struck by a 7.2 earthquake Saturday. Early news reports from Haiti indicated over 300 people have died and 1,800 have been injured. The death toll has since risen to over 2,000 people.
"Really hurts to see all the devastation that's going on in Haiti and I feel like we can't catch a break," Osaka wrote on Twitter. "I'm about to play a tournament this week and I'll give all the prize money to relief efforts for Haiti. I know our ancestors blood is strong we'll keep rising."
Really hurts to see all the devastation that’s going on in Haiti, and I feel like we really can’t catch a break. I’m about to play a tournament this week and I’ll give all the prize money to relief efforts for Haiti. I know our ancestors blood is strong we’ll keep rising 🇭🇹❤️🙏🏾— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) August 14, 2021
"I would say for Haiti, I feel like I'm not really doing that much, like I could do more, and I'm trying to figure out what I can do and what exactly or where exactly to put my energy into," Osaka told reporters at Media Day in Cincinnati. "But I would say, the prize money thing, it's sort of like the first thing that I thought of that I could do that would raise the most awareness.
"I guess that is the reason why I announced it. It's really scary, because I see the news every day, and honestly, the earthquake was kind of close to my parents' school there, so I'm honestly not really sure how that's doing and I haven't seen any pictures or video of it yet."
UPDATED: Western & Southern Financial Group, the title sponsor of the Western & Southern Open, announced on Thursday that it will match Osaka’s pledged donation of her prize money at this week’s tournament to Haiti’s earthquake relief efforts.
Commending Osaka for her generosity, Western & Southern chairman, president and CEO John Barrett said he was happy to reinforce her pledge.
“Western & Southern has always been a human institution serving human needs,” said Barrett. “Naomi has taken the lead in a time of need, and we are honored to support her efforts.”
A finalist last year when the tournament was held in New York at the Billie Jean USTA National Tennis Center, the reigning US Open champion is set to play her first tour event since withdrawing from Roland Garros in May. Seeded No.2 behind No.1 Ashleigh Barty, Osaka has a bye into the second round.
For more on the Cincinnati draw, click here.
Note: The article was updated on August 19th.