Naomi Osaka at Australian Open

Naomi Osaka leads tennis in Black Lives Matter protest as Cincinnati Open temporarily suspended

Play at the Western and Southern Open has been suspended on Thursday after Naomi Osaka inspired them to take a Black Lives Matter Stand.

Fresh protests have sparked in the US after an unarmed black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by police officers in Wisconsin.

Osaka had been due to play her semi-final against Elise Mertens on Thursday, but opted to take a stand – which was later joined by the tournament as a whole.

“As many of you are aware I was scheduled to play my semifinals match tomorrow. However, before I am an athlete, I am a black woman,” Naomi Osaka announced on social media.

“And as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.

“I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.

“Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach.

“I’m exhausted of having a new hashtag pop up every few days and I’m extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again. When will it ever be enough?”

Organisers at the Western and Southern Open quickly responded by joining her stance in solidarity by confirming all four semi-finals will now take place on Friday.

“As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States.

“The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognise this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27. Play will resume on Friday, August 28.”

Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.