Before the beginning of what could be the last time we see her on a tennis court for awhile, Naomi Osaka told us she plays better with a purpose.
Tennis is a grueling sport that requires a demanding year-long training and tournament schedule. Some players endure it for money, fame, on-court accolades, or maybe a mix of all three, but for Osaka that has never seemed to be enough. She has plenty of those things.
Last year, her message was clear. She walked onto Arthur Ashe Stadium seven times with seven different masks, each one featuring the name of a different victim of racial injustice, and she never lost a match. In 2021, it’s not as clear.
From NFL plays to college sports scores, all the top sports news you need to know every day.
“I don’t really have that big of a message to push across at all,” she said in a pre-tournament press conference. “It’s going to be really interesting to see what drives me.”