American tennis player Sachia Vickery, ranked 100th in the world, defeated Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain, ranked 3rd, last week in a tense match. Vickery celebrated the stunning upset and one of the biggest wins of her career so far with a familiar gesture: Black Panther’s “Wakanda Forever” salute.
Vickery isn’t the only athlete to do so. French tennis player Gaël Monfils also gave the crossed-armed salute after winning his match against Matthew Ebden. The decision to flash the “Wakanda Forever” salute points to the enduring impact of Marvel’s Black Panther film. In an interview with WTA Insider, Vickery spoke of her obsession with the movie: “It’s taking over my life. I have seen it four times already. Literally, I’m obsessed. I have watched it twice here. I may just keep watching it because it’s been working out so well for me.” Monfils told Sport360.com: “It’s not just a sign. It’s everything. It’s everything going on and definitely it’s a shout-out saying that I’m supporting the Black Panther’s community.”
The critically acclaimed film, which premiered just under a month ago, has already crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide. The film has so far grossed $520 million domestically, making it the ninth-highest release ever. As it continues it reign over the box office, the “Wakanda Forever” salute is being spotted at other sporting events.