Former Australian tennis star Rennae Stubbs has responded to the backlash caused by her post-match interview with Naomi Osaka at the US Open.
Osaka advanced to the semi-finals with a straight sets win over Shelby Rogers but this tournament is about far more than tennis for the 22-year-old, who has a Japanese mother and Haitian father.
Watch LIVE coverage of the US Open from the opening round to the finals with ESPN on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
She’s taken a stand against racial injustice, boycotting a day’s play in protest at the Western & Southern Open two weeks ago and at Flushing Meadows is wearing face masks with the names of victims of police brutality.
Today Osaka wore a mask bearing George Floyd’s name, the man who was killed in Minneapolis when a police officer knelt on his neck. She’s also worn masks featuring Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin — all of whom are black men and women who have died at the hands of police.
Speaking to Osaka after she defeated Rogers, Stubbs — now a tennis commentator and analyst — said she’s been “trying to guess what name is going to be on the masks every single day” and asked for a clue about who would appear next.
“We can’t wait for that next mask,” Stubbs added.
New York Times tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg called it a “tonally bizarre on-court interview” while The Guardian’s Tumaini Carayol said on Twitter: “Still cannot believe that Naomi Osaka wearing the names of black people killed by police and others on her masks in order to amplify racial injustices led to this line of questioning.”
Stubbs came in for heavy criticism on social media. Sports business reporter Darren Rovell tweeted: “We can’t wait for the next name of a murdered person you put on your mask? I mean, I don’t think any person in the world had that thought. I guess I was wrong.”
Vinney Wong wrote: “Did Rennae Stubbs really ask Naomi Osaka which mask she’d be wearing for the next match as if those masks are a fashion statement?”
Brandon Carter said: “I like Rennae Stubbs, I do. But I’m not sure guessing which black murder victim will be repped on Osaka’s mask next is a very fun game.”
RELATED: Naomi Osaka’s incredible transformation
RELATED: Tennis star tells mouthy commentator to shut it
Rennae Stubbs came under fire for her line of questioning.Source:News Corp Australia
Naomi Osaka is taking a stand.Source:AFP
Despite the blowback, Stubbs defended herself.
“Of course I meant well, the parents of these victims are so thankful that Naomi is doing this,” Stubbs wrote on Twitter. “We even have them on video talking about it.
“I think the victims would love to know we are NOT FORGETTING THEIR NAMES! I would never disparage them! If u know me u would know that.”
After her match, videos were played from Trayvon Martin’s mother and Ahmaud Arbery’s father thanking Osaka for her support and wishing her well for the tournament.
After watching them on court, the world No. 9 said: “It means a lot. I feel like they’re so strong, I’m not sure what I would be able to do in their position.
“I feel like I’m a vessel at this point in order to spread awareness.
“It’s not going to dull the pain but hopefully I can help with anything that they need.”
Osaka elaborated further at her post-match press conference about the impact of those emotional clips.
“Actually I was just trying really hard not to cry. For me it’s a bit surreal,” she said. “It’s extremely touching that they would feel touched by what I’m doing.
“For me, I feel like what I’ve doing is nothing. It’s a speck of what I could be doing.
“It was really emotional. I feel like, I don’t know, after I saw it, at first I was a bit in shock. Now that I’m here and I took the time, I’m really grateful and I’m really humbled.”
Although she tried not to cry, Osaka later revealed on Twitter she couldn’t hold back the tears.
“I often wonder if what I’m doing is resonating and reaching as many people as I hope,” she wrote. “That being said, I tried to hold it in on set but after watching these back I cried so much.
“The strength and the character both of these parents have is beyond me. Love you both, thank you.”
Source: Read Full Article