It was nearing midnight, moments after the biggest victory of her life.
Serena Williams takes on Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the U.S. Open final on Saturday, little over a year after almost dying giving birth to her daughter. But Osaka didn’t crack a smile. Until, that is, she started talking.
“When I was a little kid I always dreamed I would play Serena in a Grand Slam final”.
“I shouldn’t think of her as my idol, just as an opponent”.
Osaka also has a strong attachment to Japanese culture, describing her visits to the country as like a “super-awesome extended vacation that I don’t want to leave”, according to media reports.
“She has the potential to grab a broad base of fans – and inspire young women – from America, Japan, the Caribbean, pretty much everywhere tennis is played”.
The 36-year-old American will play Japan’s Naomi Osaka in Saturday’s final after the 20th seed beat Madison Keys. Serena Williams’ adorable baby girl sported a similar outfit to the one the tennis champion wore at the U.S. Open!
Osaka grew up idolising Williams and will be determined to be the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam title. But Osaka struggled from there.
“I love you”, Osaka said.
Safe to say, those losses feel like a lifetime ago.
Osaka played Williams earlier this year in Miami, Florida.
She has dropped only one set in the ongoing tournament, blasting past the likes of Venus Williams, Karolina Pliskova and Anastasija Sevastova.
Which TV channels will broadcast the US Open 2018, Serena Williams vs Naomi Osaka Final match?
Over the course of her career, Osaka has amassed an impressive career earnings total of more than $3.2 million (£2.4m). I think that experience was really good for me. Twitter was abuzz in reaction, and everyone from Star Jones to Soledad O’Brien was praising Osaka.
The Japanese youngster broke into tears of joy following that win over Sabalenka but remained calm after her victory in the semi-final. With a seventh US Open title to go with those she won in 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2014 she can break out of a tie with Chris Evert for the most ever. If not the present.
But Williams will represent the stiffest test yet for Osaka after also cruising mostly unchallenged into the final, her only real blip coming in the fourth round when she needed three sets to get by Estonian Kaia Kanepi.
She pushed back at all the haters by showing up to the US Open wearing a tutu designed by Louis Vuitton designer Virgil Abloh along with fishnets. First, she was banned by the French Federation from wearing the now infamous “cat suit” which was actually created to help her body resist blood clots, which she was at a particularly high risk for after her arduous pregnancy.
She seems younger than her age, carrying a youthful innocence.
Osaka, the U.S. Open’s 20-seed, advanced to the U.S. Open finals on Thursday by beating Madison Keys 6-2, 6-4 and will face Serena Williams on Saturday.
While she already holds the record for the most Grand Slam titles in the Open Era, Court’s overall record of 24 majors has loomed large over Serena as she returned from pregnancy.
“The combination of her strength and childlike innocence is her charm”, said the conservative-leaning Yomiuri, another major daily. So, how did the match end in her dream? “I’m just going to keep trying”, she said. “You’re just asking me”.