NEW YORK (Reuters) – Japan’s Naomi Osaka withdrew from her final against Victoria Azarenka in the Western & Southern Open at Flushing Meadows on Saturday because of a left hamstring injury.
“I’m sorry to have to withdraw today with an injury,” Osaka said in a written statement. “I pulled my left hamstring yesterday in the second-set tiebreak and it has not recovered overnight as I had hoped.
“This has been an emotional week and I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support.”
The 22-year-old two-time Grand Slam winner defeated Belgium’s Elise Mertens on Friday in their semi-final after she had initially said she would not compete in the match in a protest over racial injustice in the United States.
The former U.S. Open champion has a Japanese mother and Haitian father and has been a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. Her decision came amid similar protests in the NBA and WNBA over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday.
Osaka’s injury means Belarusian Azarenka wins her first title since 2016.
The tournament was the final tune-up for the U.S. Open, which starts on Monday.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery and Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon)