Naomi Osaka wins her second U.S. Open title with a powerful message

September 14, 2020, 12:41 PM UTC
Naomi Osaka of Japan walks on court in front of virtual fans before her Women's Singles final match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. Al Bello/Getty Images
Al Bello—Getty Images

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Vanessa Pappas leads TikTok through its crisis, women in Japan say they haven’t seen the results of “womenomics,” and Naomi Osaka wins a U.S. Open title with a powerful message. Go get your Monday.

– Game, set, match. Naomi Osaka is a U.S. Open champion twice over. The 22-year-old tennis star defeated Belarusian player Victoria Azarenka on Saturday to win this year’s title.

Osaka’s first U.S. Open win was marked by its circumstances: her emotional 2018 match against Serena Williams, and questions about the referee’s treatment of Williams during play. This victory also comes with its own unique context—though this time shaped by events transpiring far beyond Arthur Ashe stadium.

Osaka, as we’ve followed throughout the Open, wore the names of Black people killed by police on her face masks throughout her seven matches, starting with Breonna Taylor and ending with Tamir Rice. The athlete, who has become one of the most vocal voices in sports for the Black Lives Matter movement, fought for victories on the court months after history-making nationwide protests and during a pandemic, without crowds in the stands to cheer her on. Still, she deftly turned attention back to the cause.

When asked, “What was the message you wanted to send?” Osaka responded, “What was the message that you got was more the question. I feel like the point is to make people start talking.” On Sunday, the U.S.-based star, who plays for Japan and is also of Haitian heritage, made another powerful statement as she showed gratitude for her win: “I would like to thank my ancestors,” she tweeted, “because every time I remember their blood runs through my veins I am reminded that I cannot lose.”

Osaka’s win also served as yet another reminder of the Williams’ sisters legacy, even as Serena Williams was knocked out in the tournament’s semifinal on Thursday. From the record 13 Black women who competed in this year’s event to the athletes “modeling their style of play on that of Serena and her sister Venus, dominating with grit and panache,” Williams’s impact on the sport—and on the next generation, like Osaka—is bigger than her own records.

And now, thanks not just to this title but to her powerful use of her own voice, Osaka’s own legacy is deservedly and decidedly bigger than the painful victory we watched two years ago.

Emma Hinchliffe


- TikTok on the clock. How is interim CEO Vanessa Pappas guiding TikTok through its most challenging chapter yet—one that may have concluded with Oracle's reported winning bid for the app's U.S. operations? The executive is profiled by both the NYT and the WSJ. Pappas says she is not involved in sale talks and is instead focused on "what TikTok’s future could look like if the app’s ownership is bifurcated."

- Womenomics. As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepares to leave office, women in Japan reflect on his "womenomics" plan to help women succeed throughout the country's workforce. Many say they have yet to see the results of his proposals and remain shut out from promotions or full-time work. New York Times

- Girls' night goes wrong. USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page is set to moderate next month's vice presidential debate between Sen. Kamala Harris and VP Mike Pence. That gig, however, has drawn attention to a report that Page hosted a "Girls' Night Out" event for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma in 2018 (Verma is under the microscope for use of taxpayer funds). Some think that the event violated journalistic boundaries, while Page's employer has said that the gathering was of a sort that is "'routinely hosted' by female journalists to 'honor significant accomplishments of both Democratic and Republican women.'" Washington Post

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: EXOS hired Yvette Pasqua as chief technology officer. ServiceNow hired SAP's Vanessa Smith as SVP, global go-to-market. American Eagle promoted Aerie global brand president Jennifer Foyle to chief creative officer.


- Daughter's view. Samantha Cohen, 24, watched her father, Michael Cohen, spend a decade in President Trump's orbit. In a new interview, she discusses her "icy" relationship with Ivanka, her friendship with Tiffany Trump, comments she says Trump made about her appearance when she was a teenager, and what she diagnoses as her father's "Stockholm syndrome." Vanity Fair

- Friendly skies? Two longtime flight attendants sued United Airlines, saying the airline packs charter flights for professional athletes with "young, blond crews" and bars older employees from working the lucrative routes. "The flight attendants included in our sports team charter program are largely representative of our overall flight attendant population in regards to age and race," the company said. Bloomberg

- Calling for action. Actor Hilary Swank sued SAG-AFTRA's health plan for denying coverage for ovarian cysts. In a statement, Swank draws attention to not just her own struggle with the insurer relied on by much of Hollywood but to how insurance companies, she says, "diminish the significance of [women's] problems." The SAG-AFTRA health plan said in a statement that it "covers diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis and ovarian cysts when medically necessary." People


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"It’s like going grocery shopping when you’re full; if I feel like I have too many good things going on, I can’t say yes to another good thing."

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