Naomi Osaka’s coach Wim Fissette has backed the two-time Grand Slam champions active support of the Black Lives Matter movement, with the Belgian saying he is “very proud” of the former world number one’s stance at the US Open.
Osaka has been tennis’ leading figure in supporting the movement. The Japanese originally boycotted her Western & Southern Open semifinal clash against Elise Mertens to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake, with the tournament eventually suspending a day of play in response, and has been wearing face masks featuring the names of those killed in racists incidents in America.
In an interview following Osaka’s fourth round win over Anett Kontaveit, Fissette commented on the former US Open’s champion boycott less than a fortnight ago. “She did [an] unbelievable big thing [sic] during the Cincinnati tournament, as you know. We support her there, because we know, like, how important it is,” commented the Belgian, who also praised the world number nine’s position as a role model on and off court.
“For sure with wearing the masks, she wants to be [a] role model, but also she knows that it has to go together with the role model on court. So it's a good combination. Role model off court; also great attitude on court. That goes together. So far it's working really well. So I'm very proud of her.”
Fissette also noted that Osaka’s protests were providing extra motivation for her in her quest for a third Grand Slam title. ”It's definitely helping her and giving her even more energy," said Fissette. “I mean, she always has the motivation. Of course she wants to go really far in this Grand Slam, and she wants to -- obviously she wants to win it. But this is like an extra motivation, as you know. It's a very important topic for her.”
Osaka will next be on court and displaying a new face mask tomorrow night, when she takes on Shelby Rogers for a spot in the last four. Fissette, who has coached several high profile WTA players in the past, will be hoping that his charge continues her recent run of good form and reaches a third Grand Slam semifinal.