Presenting the #Sportsperson of the Year: The Activist Athlete.— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 6, 2020
Congratulations to five who inspired in 2020: @KingJames, @breannastewart, @PatrickMahomes, @naomiosaka and @LaurentDTardif https://t.co/uLEiwWyaDO pic.twitter.com/6i6DSqw0wN
Sports Illustrated's "The Athlete Activist" of the year honours top athletes who have “turned athletic fame into a platform for social activism.” Besides Osaka, Lebron James, Breanna Stewart, Patrick Mahomes and Laurent Tardiff have been named winners.
“At 23, Naomi has become a force on the tennis court, winning the US Open in September for the second time, coming back from a set down to beat Victoria Azarenka,” wrote WTA Legend Martina Navratilova in Osaka’s SI feature.
“But in 2020 she also became a huge force off the court. Naomi came to understand the power of fame and learned how to use it for the greater good. How cool is that? She used her platform to raise awareness of violence against Black Americans by the police and others and to foster the conversation about how to combat it," Navratilova added referring to Osaka's Arthur Ashe Stadium appearance at the US Open this year where she wore a black mask with Breonna Taylor’s name emblazoned on it. She has been protesting against racial injustice and the death of Breonna Taylor, an African American who was shot dead by cops in earlier this year in May, and the death of George Floyd.
This year Osaka outranked global icon Serena Williams to become the Highest-Paid Female Athlete, according to Forbes. She holds dual citizenship but decided to represent Japan ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, which is now scheduled for 2021. She won the US Open title in 2018 and grabbed the Australian Open trophy in 2019. She also became Japan’s first Grand Slam singles champion (man or woman) after beating her idol, Serena Williams, in the US Open final in 2018. She went toe-to-toe with the 23-time Grand Slam champion and defeated her.
Feature Image Credit: ESPN