Sports

Activist, champion: Naomi Osaka named AP Female Athlete of Year

Naomi Osaka was as noteworthy in 2020 for her activism away from the tennis court as her success on it, winning the U.S. Open for her third Grand Slam title, as well as speaking out against racial injustice and police brutality.

Tennis star was as noteworthy for her activism away from court as success on it

Naomi Osaka holds the U.S. Open championship trophy. On Sunday, Osaka was selected by The Associated Press as the Female Athlete of the Year for her success on the court as well as her role in speaking out against racial injustice and police brutality. (Naomi Osaka is AP Female Athlete of Year)

With tennis, like so much of the world, shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, Naomi Osaka found herself with time to read and think.

And while she won the U.S. Open for her third Grand Slam title, she also stood out for speaking out about racial injustice and police brutality.

As noteworthy in 2020 for her activism away from the tennis court as her success on it, Osaka was selected by The Associated Press as the Female Athlete of the Year in results revealed Sunday after a vote by AP member sports editors and AP beat writers.

 WATCH | CBC Sports' Devin Heroux on the year that was:

2020 showed the whole of sports is greater than the sum of its parts

Sports

5 months ago
5:03
Athletes around the world raised a collective voice in an unprecedented show of power. 5:03

"It was difficult to be isolated from my family for large parts of the year, but that's nothing compared to others. It was sad to watch and read the news of people suffering from COVID-19, and the economic and social effect on so many — losing jobs, mental health. It was such a tough year for so many people," Osaka wrote in an email interview. "And then watching the police injustices like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake [to name just a few] in the summer broke my heart. I am proud of my U.S. Open victory, but more so that I got people talking about the real issues."

Osaka collected 18 of 35 first-place votes and a total of 71 points.

WNBA Finals MVP Breanna Stewart was next with nine first-place votes and 60 points, followed by Sarah Fuller, the Vanderbilt soccer player who kicked for the school's football team, with one first-place vote and 24 points.

 

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