Naomi Osaka Celebrated at ‘Sports Oscars’ As Lewis Hamilton’s Social Justice Work Recognized


The 23-year-old was named 2021 Laureus Sportswoman of the Year after winning her second US Open title, but it wasn’t just her success on the pitch that helped her claim the honor. .

After seeing so many of her “models” win the award, Osaka said it “meant a lot” to her that she could collect it herself.

“When it comes to my activism on the ground, I think it’s important to use my voice, because for me I feel like I often hold back a lot and worry about what people think of me, but you know if you have a platform it’s very important that you use it, ”she explained.

“For the future, my main hopes for the future would simply be to have helped or reached as many people as possible and hopefully be a better person.

Usually a glitzy red carpet event that has earned the nickname the ‘Oscars of Sport’, this year’s Laureus Awards were held digitally due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The awards told the “inspiring stories of people who have worked tirelessly to fight the pandemic, and highlighted the advocacy of sportsmen and women who have used their positions of influence to have a powerful impact on issues and conflicts. that go beyond sport, ”according to a statement by Laureus.

READ: How a sports psychologist helped teenager Iga Swiatek win her first tennis grand slam
Osaka hits a comeback against Victoria Azarenka in the 2020 US Open final.

Use your platform

Like Osaka, another prominent athlete who used his platform to shed light on social injustices and racial inequalities in 2020 was Formula 1 superstar Lewis Hamilton.

At the same time as he tied Michael Schumacher’s record of seven F1 world championships, Hamilton was a strong voice against police brutality and racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

The Mercedes driver wore a Black Lives Matter helmet with a black racing suit, while taking the knee before each grand prix and encouraging his colleagues to do the same. His car was painted black to demonstrate the team’s commitment to diversity.

As a result, Hamilton – who won last year’s Sportsman of the Year award with Lionel Messi – received the first Laureus Athlete Advocate of the Year award for 2021 “for his involvement in the fight against racism”.

“This past year has been incredibly difficult for so many, but it has also been heartening to see the power of our collective voices spark new conversations and change,” said Hamilton.

“The impact of each of you who have stood up is so inspiring, so I want to thank you. Keep fighting, keep shining your light.

“The global rise to tackle the long-standing problem of systemic racism and inequalities in our society has been monumental, but we must continue to fight

“We all need to take responsibility for making positive changes in our world and hold ourselves accountable, so that last year’s promises turn into action. I truly believe that together we will make it happen, and I am so by your side. as we move forward. “

READ: ‘I played this sport alone,’ says Lewis Hamilton after record title win
Hamilton wears a Black Lives Matter jersey on the grid ahead of the Turkish F1 Grand Prix.

Crowning of history

Alongside Hamilton, Rafael Nadal also had a historic 2020.

In June, the Spaniard won his 13th Roland Garros title, tying Roger Federer’s all-time record of 20 career Grand Slam victories.

In recognition, Nadal was named Laureus Sportman of the Year for 2020, his fourth Laureus award.

“I had some incredible competitors: the rest of the athletes probably deserve the trophy like me, but it was the year for me and I couldn’t be happier,” said the 34-year-old.

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Nadal returns the ball to Novak Djokovic in their final men's tennis match at the 2020 French Open.

“Winning the French Open and equaling Roger Federer’s 20th Grand Slam was an unforgettable moment. It means a lot to match my great rival, but at the same time my great friend. It’s something very special afterwards. all the history we have had together on and off the pitch, ”Nadal added.

“The pandemic we are facing is unprecedented and I want to send a message of support to all the families who have suffered or lost someone.”

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