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15 Aug, 2021 14:09

'Our ancestors' blood is strong': Tennis star Naomi Osaka pledges to donate prize money to victims of devastating Haiti earthquake

'Our ancestors' blood is strong': Tennis star Naomi Osaka pledges to donate prize money to victims of devastating Haiti earthquake

Naomi Osaka, the second-ranked women's tennis player in the world, has vowed to give her prize money from the upcoming Western & Southern Open to the victims of Saturday's devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Osaka, whose father hails from the Caribbean country, made the pledge in the wake of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake which struck the region on Saturday, resulting in the loss of at least 304 lives and injuring several hundred more.

The Japanese tennis icon, who has risen to become one of global sport's most recognizable figures in recent years, announced on social media that any and all prize money she wins in next week's tournament will be reserved to assist "relief efforts in Haiti".

"Really hurts to see all the devastation that’s going on in Haiti, and I feel like we really can’t catch a break," Osaka, 23, wrote online.

"I’m about to play a tournament this week and I’ll give all the prize money to relief efforts for Haiti. I know our ancestors blood is strong we’ll keep rising."

Osaka has received a bye to the second round of the Western & Southern Open, which will see her take to the court on Monday in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is currently among the favorites to take take the crown, alongside the likes of world number one Ashleigh Barty, Aryna Sabalenka and Karolina Pliskova.

The winner of the tournament is expected to be awarded more than $250,000 in prize money - a sizeable sum which would go some way to helping fund relief efforts following the natural disaster.

Osaka has used her platform as one of the most popular female sports stars on the planet on several occasions to support causes which are close to her heart. 

The sometimes outspoken star wore masks bearing the name of victims of police violence at last year's U.S. Open - including the likes of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice.

And Osaka's latest instance of activism has been resoundingly cheered online.

"Thanks for thinking of the people," came the response of one. "My team and their family members from the south are safe though a few of their relatives suffered some injuries. Even us in PAP felt something this morning. Just now more tremors. Though traumatized, still here. We are staying positive."

"Thank you for stepping up," said another. 

"That’s so great of you Naomi Osaka to give all the prize money," said a third. "You are so right ,we can’t catch a break. The kids in the tennis Academy in Haiti is going to do great. and big things. They are hard-working kids they just have to stick to it. Please!pray for Haiti."

Also on rt.com ‘A Netflix show, a Barbie doll, and now Sports Illustrated’: Critics clash with Osaka over media flurry amid ‘mental health break’