What began with the National Basketball Association’s Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic boycotting their playoff game on Wednesday afternoon became a cascade of cancellations throughout the sports world, in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. That world now includes tennis.

Just before 9 p.m. ET—after the other two NBA playoff games scheduled for Wednesday were postponed, along with WNBA postseason competition and a number of Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer games—Naomi Osaka tweeted that she would not play in her Western & Southern Open semifinal on Thursday against Elise Mertens.

“…before I am a athlete, I am a black woman,” Osaka wrote. “And as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.

“I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.”


Shortly after 11 p.m. ET, a joint statement from the ATP, WTA and USTA acknowledged the day's historic events and postponed all play at the Western & Southern Open until Friday. It remains unclear if Osaka will still compete in the tournament, which was originally scheduled to conclude on Friday, given the US Open's Monday start.

"As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States," said the statement. "The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA  have decided to recognize this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27.  Play will resume on Friday, August 28."

The US Open draw is also scheduled to be released on Thursday afternoon.

Response from Osaka's contemporaries in the tennis world was quick, and universally supportive: