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Osaka to play when W&S Open resumes Friday

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Naomi Osaka said she will play her semifinal match at the Western & Southern Open, now scheduled for Friday, after previously stating her intention to refuse to play.

“As you know, I pulled out of the tournament yesterday in support of racial injustice and continued police violence,” Osaka, who is Black and Japanese, said in a statement to multiple news outlets. “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.”

The two-time major champion on Wednesday became the first tennis player to refuse to play in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Her next match had been scheduled for Thursday.

Several hours after Osaka’s announcement, the USTA, ATP and WTA tours announced that play would be paused and would resume Friday as the sport was “collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States.”

It was not immediately clear whether Osaka would decide to participate in the rescheduled match, but she said in her statement Thursday that she would play against Elise Mertens in the semifinals after engaging in conversations with the WTA and the USTA.

Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot seven times by police on Sunday as he attempted to enter the driver’s side door of his vehicle with three of his children inside. Video of the shooting was distributed on social media.

Osaka, who represents her native Japan, grew up in the United States and is based in Los Angeles. She is next scheduled to play in the US Open, which begins Monday. She won the tournament in 2018.

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