Before and after her first round win at the US Open, Naomi Osaka wore a mask named Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot by police.
It's just one of seven face covers in honor of another person who brought Osaka to Flushing Meadows – the same number of wins it takes to win a Grand Slam trophy. The world's highest paid athlete hopes by using any mask while in New York she will be able to draw attention to racial injustices.
"It's pretty sad that seven masks aren't enough for the number of names. Hopefully I'll get to the finals so you can all see," said Osaka, the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open champion.
Late on Monday evening she overcame an uneven game and defeated Misaki Doi in 81st place 6: 2, 5: 7, 6: 2 in an all-Japanese matchup in an empty Arthur Ashe stadium.
The Osaka movement with number 4 was an issue at times. She has an injury to her left Achilles tendon that forced her to withdraw from the Western & Southern Open final on Saturday.
During that tournament last week, Osaka took a public stand by saying it would refuse to play its semi-finals and joining athletes in various other sports in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by a Wisconsin cops left.
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The move from Osaka caused the tournament organizers to suspend the campaign for a day. When play resumed, Osaka eventually agreed to the competition as the day off for the Western & Southern Open brought additional attention to the subject.
Osaka went on trial Monday night wearing a black mask and white lettering named Taylor, a 26-year-old who was fatally shot when police officers stormed into her Louisville, Kentucky apartment with a warrant during a drug investigation in March.
Osaka put the mask back on for her postmatch interview.
Against Doi, Osaka ended with 38 easy mistakes, 13 more than their overall winners. But after a forehand put Doi in the second set, Osaka made quick progress in the third by breaking the opening game.
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Doi has not made it through the fourth round of any Grand Slam tournament. She is now 1-8 for her career at the US Open and 0-18 against opponents in the top 10.
Osaka is now 34-1 in Grand Slam games when he takes the first set; The only defeat was at the French Open 2016 against Simona Halep.
Next up is a match against Camila Giorgi from Italy.
"She's very unpredictable for me," said Osaka, "so I just have to be on my toes."
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron had a message for people demanding action in Breonna Taylor's death. "I have a special obligation," he said. "To see that anyone charged with a crime is afforded procedural justice and that guilt is determined on the basis of sufficient evidence rather than public opinion."