What Mask Will This Caribbean Roots Tennis Star Wear To The US Open Finals?

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Naomi Osaka of Japan with her Philando Castile mask, speaks after winning her Women's Singles semifinal match against Jennifer Brady of the United States on Day Eleven of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Sept. 11, 2020: Caribbean roots tennis star Naomi Osaka made it through to the finals of the US 2020 Open last night, dispatching Jennifer Brady 7-6 (1), 3-6, 6-3 to take her spot in the finals and don her 7th mask of the tourney.

She will play the winner of the Serena Williams Victoria Azarenka match.

And after the win, she again donned the Philando Castile mask she had entered the Arthur Ashe Stadium with. Osaka, still just 22, is now one victory away from a third Grand Slam title that could again see Osaka and Williams duke it out for the trophy and bragging rights.

But while the Japanese Haitian No. 4 seed’s return is historic, it is her masks in the era of Black Lives Matter and the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced a fan-less tennis match, that is making headlines. Her tribute to Castile Thursday was the sixth mask and fans will have to wait to see which police brutality victim will make the finals with her.

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Naomi Osaka of Japan walks in wearing a mask with the name of George Floyd on it before her Women’s Singles quarter-finals match against Shelby Rogers of the United States on Day Nine of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images )

Osaka paid tribute to George Floyd in her quarter finals match. She also displayed the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin in the matches prior to the quarter finals. After that match, Osaka spoke of the significance of her statement and how emotional the process has been for her.

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aomi Osaka of Japan walks in wearing a mask with the name Elijah McClain on it before her Women’s Singles second round match against Camila Giorgi of Italy on Day Three of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 2, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. McClain died in a hospital after being placed in a carotid hold by police and injected with ketamine by paramedics in Aurora, Colorado on August 30, 2019. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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Naomi Osaka of Japan wears a protective face mask with the name, Ahmaud Arbery stenciled on it after winning her Women’s Singles third round match against Marta Kostyuk of the Ukraine on Day Five of the 2020 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 04, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. Ahmaud Arbery, was an unarmed 25-year-old African-American man, was pursued and fatally shot while jogging in Glynn County, Georgia. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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aomi Osaka of Japan talks in a post match interview wearing a mask with the name of Trayvon Martin printed on it after her Women’s Singles fourth round match win against Anett Kontaveit of Estonia on Day Seven of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 6, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

“Actually, I was just trying really hard not to cry,” she said during the post-match press conference. “For me, it’s a bit surreal and it’s extremely touching that they would feel touched by what I’m doing. I feel like what I’m doing is nothing. It’s a speck of what I could be doing. So it was really emotional. I feel like after I saw it, at first I was a bit in shock, but now that I’m here and I took some time, I’m really grateful and really humbled.”

Osaka won the US Open title in 2018 and hopes to earn her third Grand Slam Championship tomorrow.

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