2020 AP Female Athlete of the Year Awarded to Naomi Osaka – Budding colored tennis star was named the Associated Press’ 2020 Female Athlete of the Year on 3rd January 2021.
She faced tough competition as the stars she was up against were none other than WNBA Finals MVP Breanna Stewart and Vanderbilt football player and football kicker Sarah Fuller.
Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was named the AP Male Athlete of the Year.
23 year old Osaka went 16-3 during a 2020 season that saw the tournament schedule shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. She also took home the U.S. Open title in September, her third Grand Slam win.
She also made a mark off the court, using her platform to support for social justice causes and to speak out against police violence and bigotry, which included skipping a semifinal match during the Western & Southern Open in August in protest of the Jacob Blake shooting. The contest ultimately paused all games for a day.
She also wore face masks prior to matches that highlighted the names of Black victims of violence and police violence.
In an email to the AP, Osaka spoke about using her voice in 2020:
“It was difficult to be isolated from my family for large parts of the year, but that’s nothing compared to others. It was sad to watch and read the news of people suffering from COVID-19, and the economic and social effect on so many—losing jobs, mental health. It was such a tough year for so many people. And then watching the police injustices like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake (to name just a few) in the summer broke my heart. I am proud of my U.S. Open victory, but more so that I got people talking about the real issues.”
Tennis legend Billie Jean King called Naomi Osaka “a mentor not only in women’s tennis but in all of sports and a strength for change in our society.”
Osaka told the Associated Press that she just did what she believed to be right.
“To be honest, I really didn’t stop to think about what others would think of my actions,” she said. “Other people’s opinions weren’t going to stop me from doing what I know in my heart was the right thing to do. The strong voices of Colin [Kaepernick] and LeBron were certainly positive influences for me and gave me strength in my own convictions.”
Sources: Beacher Report
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