Naomi Osaka an 'amazing leader' who tennis are 'fortunate' to have, says Billie Jean King
King on Osaka: "She's fantastic. I love the way she's using our platform, tennis, as a way to help fight injustice"
Last Updated: 18/09/20 4:36pm
Tennis is very "fortunate" to have US Open champion Naomi Osaka as its "amazing leader", says one of the sport's greatest trailblazers Billie Jean King.
King was hugely impressed by Osaka taking a lead in highlighting racial injustice on her way to lifting the trophy at the US Open last weekend.
Not only did the 22-year-old Japanese player win a second title at Flushing Meadows, she also became a champion for equality.
Osaka wore a different face mask for every match bearing the name of a black victim of violence having previously joined the widespread boycott by stars from various American sports at the Western & Southern Open.
Already a sporting icon, Osaka's fight for equality has focused even more attention on her, but King believes she can shoulder the responsibility of being a voice for tennis.
"Don't forget Serena [Williams] and Venus also spoke out and continue to speak out for women of colour and Venus fought for equal prize money," she said. "People forget because they go on to the new one. But Naomi is really special and I really think she will be an amazing leader through the years because she cares.
"We are very fortunate to have her in our sport."
I love Osaka because when she is interviewed she actually looks at the interviewer. You can tell that she's thinking and she has authentic, heartfelt answers. It's so great when you see the young people pushing. And black lives do matter so I think it's amazing what she is doing. Just think, she's 22-year-old so she's just getting started. I'm so happy that she's using all the possibilities [technology] that she has.
Billie Jean King on Naomi Osaka
King, 76, likened Osaka's off-court stance to that of the 'Original 9', a group of players led by King who fought tirelessly to start a professional women's tennis tour, which in turn led to the creation of the WTA in 1973.
King said: "She's fantastic. I love the way she's using our platform, tennis, as a way to help fight injustice. I'm thrilled with her.
"We stepped up as an 'Original 9' back in 1970. It started then. At the time we were scared but we knew we were doing the right thing. And if you know you're doing the right thing then you just hang in there.
"It was great to contribute in that way. I think we were more proud of that than anything, much more proud than what we did on the court. I am anyway.
"If you can see it, you can be it. And when you see Naomi, if you're a little kid sitting there watching her, you'll think it's normal to do what she's doing. But why does everybody know about her? Because she wins on the court and she's got a platform that very few people have."