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Naomi Withdraws From French Open

Tennis champio, Naomi Osaka. Photo: Getty
Tennis star Naomi Osaka, who won the US Open on Saturday, announced Thursday night that she will not play in this month's French Open. Osaka, ranked third in the world, cited a lingering left hamstring injury and a lack of preparation time on the clay surface as the reasons for her not playing.   

"Unfortunately I won't be able to play the French Open this year," she wrote on social media. "My hamstring is still sore so I won't have enough time to prepare for the clay -- these 2 tournaments came too close to each other for me this time. I wish the organizers and players all the best." The French Open is scheduled to begin in Paris on Sept. 27, after being rescheduled from its traditional spring dates amid the coronavirus pandemic. Osaka has never advanced past the third round of the event. 

She did not say when she will play next, but did sign off in the post by assuring her fans they would see her "sooner than later." The 22-year-old Osaka earned her third major title in New York thanks to a three-set comeback victory over Victoria Azarenka. The win culminated a dominant three-week stretch for Osaka; during the two-tournament bubble, she won 11 consecutive matches. 

She advanced to the Western & Southern Open final during the first week, but withdrew due to a hamstring injury. She had her hamstring taped throughout the US Open. In addition to her stellar play, Osaka also received attention and praise for her activism and commitment to social justice. 

During the Western & Southern, she chose to sit out her semifinal match to express solidarity with those protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot by police last month in Wisconsin. The tournament ultimately paused play for a day as a result, and Osaka ended up playing her semifinal. 

With hopes of raising awareness again in the US Open, she wore a different mask -- seven in total -- to each of her matches, each mask bearing the name of someone who died as the result of racial injustice and police brutality. She was publicly thanked by family members of Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd during her run.
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