Naomi Osaka three-time Grand Slam singles champion ended 2020 with another well-earned honour by posing on the Vogue cover. Women’s Tennis Association ranked her No. 1, and she is also the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles. She came to prominence at the age of sixteen when she defeated former US Open champion Samantha Stosur in her WTA tour.
The ruling U.S. Open champion is one of four cover stars honouring the magazine’s January issue. It is being praised not only for her athletic accomplishments but also for her political activism.
At the beginning of this year, during the prime of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, Naomi used her platform to intensify calls for social and racial justice. She boycotted a tennis championship, active on social media and marched against cruelty.
Impressively, the tennis champ put the names of black victims of police brutality front and centre during her matches.
As she walked into the court at the U.S. Open, she wore masks honouring Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Ahmad Arbery and Philando Castile.
It was the most visible demonstration of her activism, which she said Vogue has been preparing all through the year.
“I consider myself Haitian-Japanese-American,” she said. “I always developed with a little more Japanese culture and heritage, but I’m black, and I’m an American citizen, and in my mind, I don’t think it was too improbable when I started talking about things that were occurring here. Some things are going on here that really scares me.”
Osaka, who was shot by Annie Leibovitz, joins female athletes like Serena Williams and Simone Biles as a Vogue cover star.