Osaka, the 2020 U.S. Open champion, was selected along with Lebron James, Breanna Stewart, Patrick Mahomes and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, as those who have “turned athletic fame into a platform for social activism.”
Osaka was among the athletes who joined a national protest movement this year, to bring attention to racial injustice and add her voice to the calls for systemic change. She was lauded for wearing face masks to each of her U.S. Open matches, each featuring the name of a victim of police brutality. She brought seven masks to the tournament, and to display them all, she needed to reach the final.
In her feature composed for the SI special issue, tennis legend Martina Navratilova wrote, “At 23, Naomi has become a force on the tennis court, winning the U.S. Open in September for the second time.”