Naomi Osaka believes now is the time to speak up. The 22-year-old Osaka has been more vocal on social issues lately, and that’s by design. Osaka said she felt compelled to “speak my mind more” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. She did just that in an interview with Time, addressing the stick-to-sports debate, Colin Kaepernick and whether she intends to play in the US Open.
Osaka reiterated her stance on sticking to sports, telling the magazine she doesn’t get why athletes are the only profession that hears the phrase.
“Everyone has a vote and a say, I think it’s really weird that athletes get told to just stick to sports,” Osaka said at Wednesday’s TIME100 Talks. “You would never go up to a barber and say just stick to cutting hair. It’s a weird stigma that gets attached and I don’t even know where it comes from.”
That statement echoes what Osaka said in June, when she took Twitter critics to task after they told her she should only talk about tennis.
On the topic of Kaepernick, Osaka believes Kaepernick was unfairly punished by the NFL for “exercising his rights.” Osaka believes the league should bring Kaepernick back, saying, “If the NFL really wanted to show where they stood, they should at least give him a position that he deserves.”
The NFL appears to be leaning that way. Both commissioner Roger Goodell and executive Troy Vincent have spoken positively about Kaepernick following the league saying it would allow and encourage protests. No team has signed Kaepernick.
Finally, Osaka revealed she wants to play in the US Open. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the US Open will take place in August, but the event will be held without fans. Osaka says she plans to play as long as tournament organizers follow through on implementing proper safety measures.
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