“I pulled my left hamstring yesterday in the second set tiebreak and it has not recovered overnight as I had hoped.”
Osaka had defeated Belgium’s Elise Mertens in the semi-final to set up the championship match against two-time Australian Open winner Azarenka, from Belarus, in the same New York Covid-19 quarantine bubble where the US Open begins on Monday.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Osaka, of Haitian and Japanese heritage, had threatened not to play in the semi-finals to protest the police shooting of African-American Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Osaka said she was “sick to her stomach” and “exhausted” by repeated violence against blacks by US police, echoing a move by the NBA Milwaukee Bucks in boycotting a playoff game for the same reason.
Osaka’s decision prompted the WTA and ATP to postpone all semi-final matches to Friday, which inspired Osaka to change her mind and play, although she was worried other delayed players would be upset.
“This has been an emotional week and I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support,” Osaka said.