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U.S. Open women’s final features Naomi Osaka’s masks, Black hair and a bold cultural statement

Black Women in Sports

U.S. Open women’s final features Naomi Osaka’s masks, Black hair and a bold cultural statement

By Robyn Autry, chair of the Sociology Department at Wesleyan University

Naomi Osaka’s hair doesn’t impact her 120 mph serve or powerful baseline play. But it does impact how she is perceived in the bright, white tennis world

UPDATE (September 12, 2020, 7:00 p.m. ET): This piece has been updated to reflect Naomi Osaka’s victory on Saturday in the 2020 U.S. Open women’s finals. She defeated Victoria Azarenka two sets to one to claim her third Grand Slam.

Naomi Osaka’s hair doesn’t matter. At least not when it comes to her 120 mph serve, her daunting forehand or her powerful baseline play. But it does matter in terms of how she shows up in the tennis world and how she’s emerged as one of the most prominent athletes supporting the Black Lives Matter protests.

On Saturday, Osaka defeated Victoria Azarenka to claim her second U.S. Open singles title and third Grand Slam title.

Alongside her outstanding athleticism, though, Osaka has..

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Chrysalis

I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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