Juneteenth: Players celebrate pioneers and history of the gameBy Jun 19, 2020
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Juneteenth: Players celebrate pioneers and history of the game
Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff, Sloane Stephens and more all took to social media to spread awareness and insight of the holiday commemorating the end of slavery.
Published Jun 19, 2020
The holiday that received its name by combining June and 19 is often times referred to "Juneteenth Independence Day" or "Freedom Day." In years prior, the holiday has been somewhat overlooked, but in the midst of nationwide protests for justice and equality, there has been a restored interest in Juneteenth.
Juneteenth is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, and it has been celebrated by African Americans since 1865. Today, 155 years later, there has been an increase in celebrating the day of freedom.
The sport's players such as Althea Gibson—the first African American to win a major in a time where segregation was still alive—and Arthur Ashe have broken down racial barriers. Gibson and Ashe dealt with racial socialization, which included being taught to return every ball that landed within two inches of a line and to never question an umpire’s decision.
It wasn't easy, but those two icons along with many others such as Yannick Noah and Billie Jean King paved the way to where we are today, but there's so much farther to go. Many of the current ATP and WTA players are itching to do better.
Many current and former players took to social media to share their thoughts on Friday about how there's more to do.
Sloane Stephens is not just acknowledging the day of freedom, she's also sharing ways her fans can get more involved and take action. The 2017 US Open champion shared a link for her followers to sign a petition to make the day a national holiday. Currently, Juneteenth is a state holiday for 46 states.
With the tragic passing of George Floyd and so many other black men and women who have been subject to violence, Americans have been pushing for change. Huge corporations, such as Twitter, Nike, Best Buy and Target, have designated the day as a paid company holiday.
It's a step Stephens would like to see more companies take.
Coco Gauff may only be 16, but her maturity is far beyond her tender years. The Florida naive has been active on social media about fighting for equality and also has been taking part in peaceful protests in Delray Beach.
"No matter how big or small your platform is, you need to use your voice," Gauff said in Delray Beach. The Linz champion is definitely backing up her statement by letting her followers know why this Friday is not just any other Friday.
A longtime pioneer for equality, Billie Jean King shared a little insight to her over 70,000 Instagram followers.
"Juneteenth is a day to celebrate freedom, equality, and the commitment to continued progress in communities everywhere," King said. "The commitment is more important than ever."
Naomi Osaka has been very vocal regarding recent events in the United States. The two-time Grand Slam champion is celebrating the day by learning more about racial history.
Osaka snapped a photo of Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth. Fanon was one of the most important theorists of revolutionary struggle, colonialism, and racial difference in history.
Former USTA president Katrina Adams spoke about the history of black Americans in honor of Juneteenth. Adams broke barriers of her own by becoming the first African American, first former professional tennis player and youngest ever to serve as a USTA President.
Her success wouldn't have been possible without Gibson, who turned the tables for black players in the sport.
"Althea Gibson really is the Jackie Robinson of tennis," Adams said. "She truly broke the color barrier. The doors that were closed and the ridicule that she experienced and the bias that she experienced, but yet kept her head up high and continued to march forward."
With heads held high many are still marching forward with change and the pursuit of equality at the top of their minds.