Playing Her Idol Like An Opponent, Naomi Osaka Says, “I Love You” To Serena Williams

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The Oasis Reporters

September 10, 2018

Naomi Osaka wins the US Open, defeating iconic Serena Williams.
Serena Williams, still graceful in a humbling defeat.

Naomi Osaka’s dream of facing her mentor and heroine, Serena Williams in a Grand Slam final did come through and what else did she have to say to the revered US Open title opponent Serena Williams ?
“I love you” just moments after she became the first Japanese woman to reach a Grand Slam final. And she won, at the meltdown of the aging star.

The 20-year-old breakout star of the tournament swept into the record books and Saturday’s championship match against the 23-time major winner with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Madison Keys, the runner-up in 2017.

When asked on court what she told herself as she served for the match, she said: “Don’t double fault”.

“Why,” asked the interviewer. “Serena,” replied the charismatic Osaka.

“I love you, Serena,” she added before adding “I love you, mom; I love everybody”.

Osaka, the 20th seed, has met and defeated Williams once — at Miami in March.

That win came just a week after she had lifted her first top-level trophy at the prestigious Indian Wells event in California.

Saturday was the fulfilment of Osaka’s childhood dream of facing Williams in a Grand Slam final.

“It still feels a little bit, like, surreal. Even when I was a little kid, I always dreamed that I would play Serena in a final of a Grand Slam,” she said.

“Just the fact that it’s happening, I’m very happy about it. At the same time I feel like even though I should enjoy this moment, I should still think of it as another match.

“Yeah, I shouldn’t really think of her as, like, my idol. I should just try to play her as an opponent.”

Serena played in her 31st Grand Slam final and ninth at the US Open where she is a six-time champion.

When the American, 16 years her senior, won her first US Open in 1999, Osaka was not yet two years old.

“When you just come back and then you make the finals of two slams, I think that’s really amazing,” added Osaka in reference to Williams’s runner-up spot at Wimbledon in July.

Here are what the officials said after Naomi Osaka defeated Serena Williams in a stormy US Open final on Saturday:

“What Serena did on the podium today showed a great deal of class and sportsmanship. This was Naomi’s moment, and Serena wanted her to be able to enjoy it.

“That was a class move from a true champion. What Serena has accomplished this year in playing her way back onto the tour is truly amazing.

“She is an inspiration to me, personally, and a credit to our sport, win or lose. I know that she was frustrated about the way the match played out, but the way she stepped up after the final and gave full credit to Naomi for a match well-played speaks volumes about who she is.”

— Katrina Adams, head of the United States Tennis Association (USTA)

“On the fifth point in the second game of the second set between Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, the chair umpire witnessed coaching taking place from Williams’ coach. Even though her coach has admitted to coaching, Williams has made it clear that she did not receive any coaching. Nevertheless, in accordance with the rules, Williams was assessed a Code Violation, resulting in a warning.

“At the completion of the fifth game of the second set, Williams was assessed a second code violation for racket abuse, which required a point penalty.

“At the changeover, at 4-3, Williams was assessed a third code violation for verbal abuse in the judgment of the umpire, which then required a game penalty.

“The chair umpire’s decision was final and not reviewable by the Tournament Referee or the Grand Slam Supervisor who were called to the court at that time.”

— Official US Open statement

“There are matters that need to be looked into that took place during the match. For tonight, it is time to celebrate these two amazing players, both of whom have great integrity.

“Naomi is a deserving champion and Serena at all times plays with class and makes us proud.”

— WTA statement

Six top quotes from Naomi Osaka after US Open victory

Naomi Osaka starred on the court and in the media conference room after winning the US Open on Saturday with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Serena Williams in the final.

Here are six of her best quotes from her post-match news conference:

“I always thought I should put like a GoPro on him during my matches.”

— On her father Leonard’s habit of not watching his daughter play, opting instead to take a stroll around the grounds.

“I chose him to work with because he twisted his ankle within the first five minutes of practice. I was like, Yup, this guy right here, he’s going to be great.”

— On working with coach Sascha Bajin

“I don’t know what happened on the court. So for me, I’m always going to remember the Serena that I love. It doesn’t change anything for me. She was really nice to me, like, at the net and on the podium. I don’t really see what would change.”

— On her affection for Serena Williams despite the American’s meltdown

“Everyone who was born in Osaka, their last name is Osaka.

“Is that true?”

“No.”

— On sharing her surname with the Japanese city of her birth

“When I was growing up, I did a whole report on her in third grade. I coloured it and everything. I said, I want to be like her. It’s maybe in like a folder at home or something. I’m not sure.”

— On her affection for the American at an early age

“Sleep! I’m not really a social person like that. Maybe I’ll play video games.”

Nice stuff to say about an aging icon. Tennis has shown the class in the game.

Credits :
NAN
AFP
Other Agencies

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Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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